Marine panels are used for balcony panels, ceilings, doors, decking, bulkheads, cabinetry or furniture and boats. Panels made before 1980 may contain asbestos.
If you ever had, or currently have, a job constructing boats or working on boats containing marine panels with asbestos, you are at risk for developing mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that you can only get if you are exposed to asbestos. Before the FDA banned asbestos, it was used in a multitude of different building materials and consumer products, including marine panels.
Because marine panels are used on ships, they must be heat-resistant to ward off fire, while still remaining water resistant to prevent warping. As a result, asbestos was the best material to use because it is strong, flexible, heat-resistant, durable and inexpensive.
Unfortunately, asbestos is dangerous and has caused numerous deaths. Even though asbestos is a natural resource, a mineral taken directly from the earth, it has been proven to cause mesothelioma in humans. These jagged fibers become problematic when they are ingested or swallowed.
The asbestos fibers entrench themselves in the soft tissues surrounding your lungs, heart, or stomach, and over a period of time mesothelioma develops as the tissue begins to mutate. Unfortunately, symptoms associated with mesothelioma don’t reveal themselves until the tumors have gotten so big that they disrupt your vital organ, and by that time, the mesothelioma cells will have traveled to many parts of the body, spreading cancer everywhere it goes.
When mesothelioma progresses to a point of spreading to other organs, it is usually not treatable. The majority of people who have developed mesothelioma after asbestos exposure die soon after they are diagnosed. Most people never know that there is even a problem because they were exposed years before, and never had an opportunity to protect themselves or get the proper medical treatment that they needed.
If you worked with marine panels that contain asbestos, you are at greater risk for developing mesothelioma because you worked in closed areas and the dust clouds that were produced made it a dangerous place to breathe. Even today, marine panels containing asbestos are causing new cases of mesothelioma. If you are restoring a ship and doing repairs, this can lead to asbestos exposure as well as mesothelioma.
If you are restoring a boat, you should talk to a professional and get the area tested for asbestos. Since mesothelioma takes years to develop, you should go to you doctor and get tested. You should also know that your family is at risk too, because asbestos can easily be transported home on your clothing and in your hair.