Offshore rust removal is a crucial task to maintain the integrity of marine structures. However, the process of removing the rust poses a hidden danger—asbestos exposure. Individuals in these high-risk professions are at an increased risk for severe illness.
Asbestos is a mineral known for its heat resistance and durability. It was extensively used in the maritime industry. It is often found in old insulation materials or coatings on structures, including boats and ships. When these materials deteriorate, the fibers become airborne.
Side effects of asbestos
The rust removal process releases asbestos fibers into the air; those fibers can then lodge into workers’ lungs. Severe lung health injuries occur from this type of exposure. The latency period for these diseases can be decades, making it challenging to associate them with past exposure.
No amount of exposure is safe. Even limited incidents can lead to pleura mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive cancer that affects the lining of the lungs. A few individuals report peritoneal mesothelioma, which affects the abdominal cavity and organs. Asbestosis is a condition that permanently damages the lungs.
Recommended protective standards
In the process of offshore rust removal, workers may disturb asbestos. Using abrasive methods like sandblasting or wire brushing can release the fine fibers into the air. Employers must implement proper protective standards to protect employees.
- Proper training in identifying hazardous materials
- Using specialized equipment, such as respirators
- Employing safe removal practices
Early diagnosis increases survival rates. According to the Centers for Disease Control, doctors in the United States reported, that in 2018, medical professionals diagnosed almost 3,000 individuals with mesothelioma. Regular health monitoring for at-risk workers helps detect early signs of asbestos-related diseases.