Asbestos Exposure During Overhauls

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When a vessel undergoes overhaul, the components of various machinery and equipment it contains are taken apart in order to be evaluated or, if necessary, repaired. For ships and submarines laid down between 1920 and 1980, overhauls represented the perfect occasion for tremendous asbestos exposure to the people present around the area, especially to those performing the overhaul.

By taking apart machinery or equipment which contains asbestos, carcinogenic fibers are inevitably released in the environment, from where they can be easily inhaled or ingested by anyone who is in close proximity to the site. Friction and moving the products from one place to another was mostly what led asbestos fibers to become airborne. Therefore, the risk of developing terrible diseases such as lung cancer or mesothelioma over the years increases dramatically. It is important to remember that, once they enter the body, asbestos fibers cannot be eliminated, as they embed themselves in the tissue of various organs, including the lungs, the colon, the heart, the kidneys and the bladder. Another noteworthy aspect is that veterans who served on U.S. Navy ships or submarines are only nowadays at high risk of illness, since these diseases usually take 20 to 50 years to develop.

People who were in charge of overhauls should pay close attention to their health by undergoing periodical medical examinations, as the chances of asbestos damaging one or multiple of their organs are considerable. By having your X-rays assessed by a B-reader and your other organs examined using a CT or MRI scanner, you can make sure you have not been affected by the exposure to asbestos you encountered during overhauls. "I came aboard the USS Jouett during the overhaul in Long Beach California in 1989. We were exposed to asbestos while the head was being overhauled directly next to our berthing area where we worked daily during the overhaul," says a veteran who was exposed to this toxic mineral.

The following are only a few ships and submarines which underwent overhaul during the heyday of asbestos:

If you are a veteran who participated in one or more overhauls in the U.S. Navy during the last century, we strongly advise you to keep a close eye on your health and visit your physician regularly. The symptoms of the diseases caused by asbestos exposure are experienced very late by those suffering from one, so you should be extremely cautious if you underwent military asbestos exposure.

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