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Naval Yard Workers and Mesothelioma

Ship being repaired

Naval yard workers are at higher risk of developing certain kinds of respiratory-related diseases such as mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos, commonly used inside U.S. Navy ships. Civilian shipyard workers, known as yardbirds, were exposed to large doses of asbestos when building Navy ships and when repairing Navy ships. Because asbestos-related disease is slow to strike, many Navy yard workers and yardbirds may only recently have been diagnosed with mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos decades ago.

If you worked as a Navy yard worker or as a yardbird and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer from asbestos exposure, you may be eligible for special health benefits and compensation. While your first priority should be your health, it’s important to speak to an experienced mesothelioma claims attorney to understand your legal rights. The manufacturers of asbestos products used on Navy ships knew or should have known of the dangers of asbestos before it was used on ships. But they failed to warn naval yard workers of the health hazards they were facing. We believe those companies should be held accountable for the harm caused by those products.

Asbestos In Navy Shipyards

Millions of people employed in naval shipyards during World War II and the decades afterward were exposed to chrysotile asbestos as well as other forms of asbestos, including amosite and crocidolite since these varieties were used extensively in ship construction, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. These include Navy yard workers and yardbirds who worked at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, at Bethlehem Steel on Staten Island and at Federal Shipbuilding in Newark, New Jersey.

In fact, asbestos was used in a variety of materials that were used for construction of Navy ships until the 1980s, such as wrap around steam pipes and as insulation in boiler rooms. For many years, Navy yard workers and yardbirds did not even wear masks or respirators when working around asbestos materials. They inhaled the microscopic asbestos fibers into their lungs where the fibers lodged for decades, causing scarring of the lung and eventually causing mesothelioma, a signature cancer associated with asbestos. There were so many particles of airborne asbestos that yardbirds were sometimes nicknamed “snowbirds,” because when they emerged from a ship they were covered with white asbestos dust.

The symptoms of mesothelioma vary, depending on where the asbestos-related cancer occurs. The signs of pleural mesothelioma, the most common form which develops in the lining of the lung, include chest pain under the rib cage, painful coughs, shortness of breath and unexplained weight loss. The symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma which occur in the lining of the stomach include abdominal pain, swelling, lumps in the abdomen and weight loss.