Across the country there have been thousands of people at different shipyards who are dealing with problems associated with asbestos exposure. In Texas, the Barbas Cut Docks is one of the many shipyards that was affected by asbestos exposure. The Barbas Cut Docks is found in Brownsville and has been employing workers who have worked in close proximity to asbestos fibers. Those working the Barbas Cut Docks were exposed to asbestos on a daily basis during operation.
Asbestos is a mineral that is used heavily in shipbuilding and repair. It is a natural mineral that is used to insulate the walls, pipes, and other components of a ship. The Barbas Cut Docks used asbestos to prevent fires in parts of the ship that are exposed to high temperatures. In these situations, the chance of asbestos breaking down into particles that could be inhaled more easily is increased.
The problem with the use of asbestos is the harmfulness of the material. Workers have been known to develop mesothelioma after inhalation of asbestos fibers that are used in repairing ships. Mesothelioma is a cancerous condition that is caused by exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma occurs when fibers get into the lungs and sit in the protective lining of the lungs. Exposure time for mesothelioma can be as little as 1 month to 3 months. The most common form of mesothelioma is pleural mesothelioma. This form of mesothelioma affects the lungs and causes inflammation that can lead to cancer. Common symptoms of mesothelioma include chest wall pain, fluid in the lungs, shortness of breath, fatigue, anemia, wheezing, coughing, abdominal pain, weight loss, or bowel function problems.
Constant exposure to asbestos at the Barbas Cut Docks has caused many workers to suffer from this condition. Symptoms of mesothelioma are slow and do not show until 20 to 50 years later. Many workers may have the condition and not even know it. The symptoms are first latent and progress faster in the later stages. In addition, secondary exposure to asbestos has been known to affect women who may have been exposed to the work clothes of these workers. In women who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, 50 percent of these subjects had a partner who worked in a ship yard or area where asbestos is handled. Early detection plays a vital role in allowing sufficient time for treatment.