Asbestos Used in Marine Panels

Due to the extreme dangers associated with a fire at sea, shipbuilders took every precaution they could to manage this risk. This included installing panels that were fireproofed with asbestos. Asbestos was used to manufacture marine panels long after the health risks were widely known.

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Asbestos in Marine Panels Explained

Marine panels are used on ships to protect from fires and must remain water resistant to prevent warping. Asbestos is a natural material that is heat and water resistant and is now known to cause cancer. During the 20th century, asbestos was usedmin marine panels because it is strong, flexible, heat-resistant, durable and inexpensive.

Marine panels can be found in the following areas:

  • Service ducts
  • Firebreaks
  • Infill panels
  • Partitions and ceilings
  • Roof underlay
  • Wall linings
  • External canopies
  • Porch linings

A ship does not provide the easily-disturbed asbestos-containing panels with a stable environment. As a ship moves with the ocean, it pitches and rolls. It is battered by the elements and heaves and slams into the water as it crosses rough seas. Additionally, engine and machinery rooms produce vibrations which reverberate throughout the ship.

These conditions promote the release of friable asbestos fibers into the environment. Once airborne, the fibers can be trapped in the cramped quarters and inhaled in very high concentrations.

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Who Was Exposed to Asbestos in Marine Panels?

If you worked with marine panels that contain asbestos, you are at risk for developing mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive form of cancer caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibers.

People who worked aboard ships doing installation or repairs in closed areas are at particularly high risk. Working to drill into or disturb the panels would have released countless invisible asbestos fibers. Those who worked in facilities that manufactured marine panels are also at very high risk of developing asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma.

Asbestos fibers are portable-they can stick to hair, skin and clothing and be carried to other places. There have been many cases of mesothelioma in family members of people who worked with asbestos products.

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Ship Recycling and Asbestos Exposures

Ship recycling or “ship breaking” facilities are likely to be the site of many asbestos exposures in the years to come. When older ships are no longer seaworthy, they are sent to a recycling facility.

Ship breaking poses dangers beyond the health of the shipyard workers. Many of these facilities operate in developing nations that do not have strict environmental laws. Large quantities of asbestos are released into the general area, causing severe problems for the local populations and wildlife.

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Compensation for treatment, loss of income and other damages are available through Asbestos Trust Funds. Mesothelioma patients exposed to marine panel asbestos may qualify.

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Location of Marine Panels and Paneling Substances

Because of the superior performance and low price associated with asbestos, the material was often used by panel manufacturers even when fire protection was not required.  Some marine panels contain an asbestos concentration as high as 95%.Marine panels are not the only part of the paneling system that might contain asbestos.

Paneling substances that may contain asbestos include:

  • Glue
  • Cement
  • Putty
  • Backing strips
  • Shims
  • Marine panel linings
  • External canopies
  • Porch linings

While the use of asbestos in manufacturing has stopped in the U.S., some countries with more lenient regulations still allow companies to produce marine panels that contain asbestos.

Marine products known to contain asbestos:

  • Marinite Board
  • Asbestoslux
  • Turnasbestos
  • LDR insulation board and marine board
  • Shipboard

Health Risks of Asbestos in Marine Panels

The asbestos fibers embed themselves in the soft tissues surrounding the lungs, heart or stomach, and over a period of time, the tissue begins to mutate into cancerous tumors known as mesothelioma.

Unfortunately, symptoms associated with mesothelioma don’t reveal themselves until the tumors have become so large that they interfere with vital organs. By this time, the cancerous cells have usually spread throughout the body.

Furthermore, the disease takes a very long time to develop—it can be diagnosed several decades after the initial exposure occurred.

Seeking Justice for Asbestos Exposure

Many people have developed mesothelioma as a direct result of working with marine panels.

If you or a loved one may have been exposed to asbestos from working with marine panels, contact the Justice Support Team. Call us at (888)360-4215 or request our FREE Mesothelioma Justice Guide to help you understand how you may have been exposed.

Mesothelioma Support Team
Stephanie KiddWritten by:


Stephanie Kidd works tirelessly as a dedicated advocate for the vulnerable and underrepresented. Stephanie worked as a copywriter for an agency whose focus was communicating safety procedures on construction work sites. With her extensive background in victim advocacy and a dedication to seeing justice done, Stephanie works hard to ensure that all online content is reliable, truthful and helpful.

View 4 Sources
  1. Asbestos Global, “Asbestos in Ships - In Ever Harbour” Retrieved from Accessed on August 10, 2018.
  2. Cameo, “Marinite” Retrieved from Accessed on August 10, 2018
  3. Oracle Solutions, “Asbestos Insulating Board” Retrieved from Accessed on August 10, 2018
  4. Universidad Nacional De Colombia, “Marine Safety: Asbestos in the Maritime Industries” Retrieved from on August 10, 2018
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