The Offshore Shipbuilding Company is in one of the many inlets of the St. John’s River, located in Palatka, Florida. The facility was mostly used to maintain and build various commercial vessels. The types of ships made there include ferries, barges, tugboats, cruise ships and commercial fishing boats.
The vessels at the shipyard were considered to be top of the line, however the materials used to build them weren’t. Asbestos was one of the most commonly used materials in lining boiler rooms and insulating piping. As a part of shipbuilding during this time, many workers handled these materials with no protection. During the handling of these materials, dust and particles can be released into the air, resulting in exposure.
Mesothelioma is the most common illness involved with asbestos exposure. When inhaled, asbestos accumulates in the membranes that surround the chest and abdomen. The more a person is exposed to the asbestos, the more it will build up in their body. Eventually, the cells begin to damage with continued exposure. These damaged cells are what can turn into the various types of cancer.
Many people have no idea that they are even at risk of developing mesothelioma. It has a latency period in which the cancer takes decades to develop. Usually starting with a cough or chest pain, many victims think that they have the common flu or other simple illness. Doctors are often baffled by their patient’s symptoms as well. The only way known to increase life expectancy is early detection of the disease.
Over the years, the Offshore Building Company has had a number of employees that may have been exposed to asbestos. Across the US, researchers suspect that thousands of these workers have already died from their previous exposure at shipbuilding facilities. Correlating past exposure and relaying that information to a doctor allows for them to conduct tests to find Mesothelioma. Early detection and various treatment options allow for a better life expectancy than a diagnosis after the cancer has spread to other organs.