Boilermakers at Special Risk for Mesothelioma

September 6, 2019  |  Mesothelioma
Boilermakers at Special Risk for Mesothelioma

Welding. Rigging. Heavy fabrication. Those are just some of the tasks of the traditional boilermaker. Although the title was originally assigned to those who constructed steam boilers from raw materials back in the 1880s, civilian and U.S. Navy boilermakers in fact still assemble, maintain and repair steam boilers and boiler systems, many of those aboard ships.

Boilermakers who served in the Navy in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s,  1970s, 1980s and even 1990s were likely exposed to the toxic mineral asbestos and are urged to be alert for symptoms of the rare, but deadly cancer, known as malignant mesothelioma. Boilermakers who served aboard ships, as well as civilian boilermakers who repaired and maintained boilers in commercial buildings, industrial plants and aboard ships in port are equally at risk for this horrific disease.

A Legacy of Asbestos Use

Asbestos insulation was heavily utilized at shipyards from the 1940s through the 1990s to cover steel boiler walls and the piping leading to and from boilers. In addition, asbestos gaskets and rope packing were cut and installed to seal valves and pumps and other machinery connected to boilers and their piping.

In Navy yards, such as Puget Sound in Washington State, where vessels were constructed, repaired, and underwent periodic maintenance, boilermakers and related tradesmen who built, maintained and repaired boilers often had to physically remove and replace asbestos boards and blanket insulation that covered the boiler walls in order to perform their repairs. They had to pry off worn asbestos gasket material from leaky pipe flanges in order to cut and install new asbestos gaskets, and they had to chisel away frayed asbestos rope packing from valve stems before they could replace it with new asbestos packing material. Welding blankets, aprons and gloves, utilized by every boilermaker, were made almost entirely of asbestos fabric and became tattered and dusty as they aged. The process of removing and then replacing these insulating components, as well as using welding blankets, aprons and gloves, released millions of asbestos fibrils into the air, which were inhaled and ingested by boilermakers and others nearby. Once inside the body, microscopic asbestos fibers can fester for years before potentially erupting into deadly diseases like mesothelioma.

Take Action

While the mesothelioma lawyers at Baron & Budd don’t ever sue the United States Navy for a client’s exposure to asbestos, we do pursue the manufacturers of products that were used to insulate everything from boilers to piping aboard sea-going vessels and on land. If you or someone you love worked as a boilermaker before 2000 and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, please complete our contact form to receive a completely free and confidential evaluation of your potential asbestos claim.

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