The use of asbestos in the U.S. Coast Guard
The U.S. Coast Guard, like the Navy, is a maritime military service and has consequently been heavily exposed to asbestos, much as Navy employees have. Because of its insulating and fire-retardant properties, asbestos was initially hailed as a life-saver by the U.S. Armed Forces, as by civilian industries across the board. Its benefits seemed to know no bounds, and for decades all signs to the contrary were ignored. The Armed Forces were sadly among the organizations that refused to weigh in the potential cost to human health, and consequently, many veterans are now paying a heavy price for serving their country.
Most at risk among the Coast Guard servicemen and women were those directly exposed to asbestos in shipyard work, whether it was shipbuilding, maintenance, or repairs. Since asbestos is brittle and easily releases fibers into the air if not wet or if its surface tension is broken, exposure was almost impossible to avoid when doing work on older vessels.
Even mere travel on ships rich in asbestos products could expose the crew to toxic fibers since almost all insulating products between the 1930s and the 1970s contained asbestos. Boilers were among the richest in asbestos, followed by electrical insulation and asbestos reinforcement in walls around the ship. Practically anywhere you turned in the confined space of a Coast Guard ship, asbestos was sure to be there. And, on those ships or buildings that are still in use decades later, the danger is still there.
U.S. Coast Guard locations associated with asbestos
- U.S. Coast Guard Alameda, California
- U.S. Coast Guard Island Alameda, California
- U.S. Coast Guard Long Beach Base, California
- U.S. Coast Guard Yard, Baltimore, Maryland
- U.S. Coast Guard Sebago Lake, Maine
- U.S. Coast Guard Base San Juan Municipio, Store House, Puerto Rico
- U.S. Coast Guard Navigation School, Groton, Connecticut
- U.S. Coast Guard Gulfport, Mississippi
- U.S. Coast Guard Air Station, New York
- U.S. Coast Guard Station, Tybee Island, Georgia
- U.S. Coast Guard Station, Islamorada, Florida
- U.S. Coast Guard Air Station, St. Petersburg, Florida
- U.S. Coast Guard Station, Panama City, Florida
- U.S. Coast Guard Station, Yankeetown, Florida
Structural and mechanical components containing asbestos
Coast Guard occupations with a high risk of asbestos exposure
Asbestos products Coast Guard veterans may have been exposed to
It’s important for patients and loved ones to note that many asbestos companies were forced to set up asbestos trust funds with adequate funds to pay out current and future claims, allowing veterans and their families to collect compensation years after the asbestos company was in operation. In addition to asbestos trust funds, members of the U.S. Military that have been diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases may be able to file a VA claim.
At Environmental Litigation Group, we are dedicated to helping veterans who served in the Coast Guard and their loved ones recover the financial benefits they deserve.