Asbestos Risk for Coast Guard Veterans
Coast Guard Veterans Are at High Risk of Developing Asbestos-Related Illnesses
Because asbestos was so widely used in shipbuilding, the risks faced by Coast Guard veterans are very similar to those faced by veterans of the Navy. Asbestos is naturally fire-resistant, and was seen as an obvious deterrent against ships catching fire at sea. Before the government began regulating asbestos use in the 1980s, it could be found from stem to stern in every Coast Guard vessel constructed. It was used in electrical wiring, insulation, pipes, ropes, gaskets, and flooring materials. It was also used in paint, deck coating, and adhesives. This means that, if you were a member of the Coast Guard, you were virtually guaranteed to face at least some risk.
Occupational Exposure to Asbestos
Those who faced the highest risk of asbestos exposure worked in shipyards. As ships were constantly being constructed, renovated, and demolished, asbestos fibers were released into the air, where they were inhaled by shipbuilders and other personnel, many of whom would go on to develop asbestos-related illnesses, such as mesothelioma.
Military shipbuilding in the United States reached a peak during World War II, and Coast Guardsmen who served at the Curtis Bay Coast Guard Yard were at particular risk of being exposed to asbestos. Curtis Bay was established in 1899, and is the only shipbuilding and repair center operated and maintained by the Coast Guard. Studies have been conducted and they show that those who served there were especially susceptible to lung diseases.
While the military ceased using asbestos-containing materials in its shipbuilding in the 1970s, these risks didn’t disappear completely. Large amounts of the substance were used in the construction of Coast Guard installations across the country. The following is a list of installations where asbestos exposure may have occurred. Keep in mind that this list is far from exhaustive.
|Coast Guard Station Boothbay Harbor||Maine|
|Coast Guard Station Rockland||Maine|
|Coast Guard Station Burlington||Vermont|
|Coast Guard Station Castle Hill||Rhode Island|
|Coast Guard Station Montauk Point||New York|
|Coast Guard Station Fort Macon||North Carolina|
|Coast Guard Station Pascagoula||Mississippi|
|Coast Guard Station Lorain||Ohio|
|Coast Guard Station Port Huron||Michigan|
|Coast Guard Station Tillamook Bay||Oregon|
|Coast Guard Station Calumet Harbor||Illinois|
|Coast Guard Station Chicago||Illinois|
|Coast Guard Station Chetco River||Oregon|
|Coast Guard Air Station Houston||Texas|
|Coast Guard Station Milwaukee||Wisconsin|
If You’re a Coast Guard Veteran and Were Exposed to Asbestos
If you were a member of the Coast Guard and developed an asbestos-related illness, you may have the opportunity to seek compensation for your condition. Consider speaking with an experienced asbestos attorney to learn more about compensation through the Department of Veterans Affairs, or if you’re eligible to receive a VA pension.
In many cases the ultimate fault for your exposure lies with those who manufactured materials containing asbestos and not the Coast Guard itself. These manufacturers were often aware of asbestos’ negative health effects, yet chose to hide that information from those they sold their products to. This information will be important as you choose with whom to file your claim. Speaking with an asbestos attorney will help you better understand how this may affect your final decision.