Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that can affect people in the Pacific Northwest like other forms of cancer. However, mesothelioma is unique in several respects. One way mesothelioma is unique, is that it is almost always caused by asbestos exposure. Another way mesothelioma differs from other types of cancers, is that it is a latent disease. This means that the cancer does not form until decades after people were exposed to asbestos.
Asbestos was frequently used in ship repair and ship construction industry. Many shipyard workers who were exposed to asbestos decades ago are being diagnosed with mesothelioma now. Companies began to use asbestos-containing products because it provided good heat insulation and is fireproof.
This meant that asbestos-containing products were widely used onboard ships constructed and repaired at shipyards including Naval ships and commercial vessels. Asbestos products used historically in shipyards included asbestos containing pipe insulation, asbestos refractory cements, and asbestos containing gaskets and packing. Asbestos products were used on boilers, pipes, pumps, turbines, and other parts of ships. Many shipyard trades such as insulators, pipefitters, shipfitters, sheet metal workers, boilermakers, and electricians were exposed to asbestos.
There were several shipyards in the Pacific Northwest where asbestos products were used including Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington, Todd and Lockheed Shipyards on Harbor Island in Seattle, Washington, and Zidell Dismantling in Tacoma, Washington.
Lack of asbestos warnings harmed many workers
Considering how long it takes for mesothelioma to form after exposure to asbestos, many of the people working in shipyards during that time frame are developing mesothelioma now. Many companies who manufactured and sold asbestos-containing products knew or should have known of the hazards of asbestos but failed to warn workers of the danger. Other companies incorporated asbestos containing parts – such as asbestos gaskets and packing – into equipment they sold to the government and ship builders but failed to warn of the hazards associated with working with asbestos materials in those products.
Shipbuilding and repair at shipyards was a major industry in the Pacific Northwest. Many people earned their living working in the shipyards decades ago. Many of these workers who are retired now may have been diagnosed with mesothelioma as a result of their work in shipyards and they deserve compensation for the medical bills they are incurring as well as the pain and suffering they are experiencing. Experienced attorneys understand the devastation of mesothelioma and may be able to help mesothelioma victims receive the compensation they deserve.