As the health risks associated with asbestos became public in the early 1980s, the Navy stopped using asbestos-containing materials on the new ships. Even so, the personnel fulfilling duty on the vessels constructed before were inevitably exposed to the harmful effects of asbestos.
Asbestos was used on Navy ships as an insulating material in the form of asbestos mats and sprayed-on asbestos. Due to its resistance to high temperatures, the mineral had become the unrivaled insulating material in most parts of a ship, from bow to stern. This is why avoiding exposure to asbestos fibers was impossible.
It usually takes 10 to 40 years for the effects of inhaling or ingesting the microscopic asbestos fibers over a long period to appear. In consequence, service members diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases were exposed many years ago before the Navy stopped using asbestos products in shipbuilding. Asbestos exposure is at the root of the development of various types of asbestos-related health conditions. Still, only cancers linked to the toxic fibers make former Navy members eligible for compensation:
- bronchial cancer
- lung cancer
- laryngeal cancer
- gastrointestinal cancer
- pharyngeal cancer
- colorectal cancer
- esophageal cancer
- urogenital cancer
The following non-cancerous diseases can also occur due to exposure to asbestos over a long period:
- pleural plaques
- pleural effusion
- pleural thickening
- pulmonary fibrosis
- lung nodules and spots
- chronic bronchitis
- lung scarring
Although these diseases don't qualify veterans to file claims, they should be kept under observation as non-cancerous asbestos illnesses tend to become cancer over time, making veterans eligible for compensation. All diseases have symptoms occurring before they develop, and asbestos-related illnesses are no exception. Paying attention to the signs saves valuable time and prolongs life expectancy, especially when dealing with health issues caused by exposure to asbestos. Because of the long latency period, these diseases often go undetected until the advanced stages, making treatment challenging.
There are specific symptoms indicating degenerative processes in the lungs; therefore, people in service of the Navy from the 1930s through the 1980s should schedule a doctor's appointment without delay when experiencing:
- pain in the chest or abdomen
- respiratory system complications
- night sweats
- general weakness
- unintentional weight loss
- shortness of breath
- persistent dry cough
- loss of appetite
- clubbing of the fingers
- leg swelling
- muscle aches
- joint pain
Banishing Misdiagnosis: Ask a Second and Even a Third Doctor's Opinion
Diseases stemming from asbestos exposure are often asymptomatic, hence, misdiagnosed and mistreated. The symptoms of asbestos-related lung conditions often resemble the signs of more common and less serious health problems. Seeking a second opinion from a medical specialist is strongly advisable to avoid receiving a wrong diagnosis.
An accurate diagnosis is essential for establishing the best-suited therapy and qualifying for claims. Veterans should request a specialist to evaluate their medical examinations and ask for a written medical opinion.
An exact diagnosis could depend on information about any possibly encountered asbestos exposure; it's why veterans should tell the doctor about their employment history. Being vocal about any chance of exposure to asbestos makes a considerable difference in the medical evaluation process and offers valuable information for the correct diagnosis.
Your Exposure to Asbestos Is an Undeniable Fact
Naval service members aboard Navy ships often slept in bunks below asbestos-covered pipes; many veterans remember waking up with asbestos dust covering them. All Navy personnel, people working in shipbuilding, and dockyard workers had increased chances of asbestos exposure as the construction, repair, renovation, or decommissioning of ships favored the release of asbestos fibers into the air and, thus, the development of asbestos-related pulmonary conditions.
If you were at risk of asbestos exposure while serving in the Navy, you should consult a pulmonologist experienced with patients suffering from lung diseases caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos. The pulmonary specialist can ensure that you receive the right diagnosis and the most up-to-date treatments based on the following:
- medical history, including asbestos exposure work history
- physical examination
- blood tests
- chest X-rays
- computed tomography scans
- pleural fluid analysis
- tissue sampling (biopsy)
Veterans exposed to asbestos during their service and suffering from cancerous diseases resulting from their exposure have the right to file claims with the VA and receive compensation.
We Offer Support for Claiming the Rightful Compensation
Most veterans who served between the 1930s and the 1980s developed diseases due to exposure to asbestos and toxic chemicals. The medical care and treatments can burden the veteran's family budget with high costs and drain the resources financially and emotionally.
Filling out government forms can be an added burden in most cases, not to mention the painful event of filing for claims after the statute of limitations has expired. Because filing a claim is complex, you should contact an attorney immediately following your cancer diagnosis. We can help connect you with specialized attorneys with the skill and experience to get you lawful compensation.