Stretching from World War II until the late 1970’s, members of the U.S. military, particularly the naval branch, were among those most affected by asbestos exposure. This means that those who were on those ships during that time are at risk for developing mesothelioma, even decades later.
History of Asbestos on Naval Ships
Asbestos was widely used for insulation purposes on a number of navy ships including aircraft carriers, destroyers, and transport vessels. Asbestos was used because of its remarkable strength, its fire-resistant abilities, and its capacity to withstand massive amounts of heat. Since there was an abundance of heat-producing equipment aboard, asbestos was the perfect solution to alleviate the risk of potential fires in case of a malfunction or an attack.
During World War II, asbestos helped the US military manufacture ships quickly, efficiently, and at a low cost. What the government and citizens didn’t realize were the dangers and health risks connected to asbestos exposure. Asbestos manufacturing companies knew of the hazards, but withheld the information from the government and sold the asbestos-containing products anyway.
Everyone onboard was exposed to asbestos. Once asbestos is damaged in any way it’s easily breakable or ‘friable’. The tight spaces and lack of proper ventilation left all naval personnel defenseless against the millions of asbestos fibers released into the air. However, some occupations were exposed more than others including: boiler workers, pipefitters, insulators, plumbers, welders, electricians, machinists, and engineers. Asbestos was mainly used in the boiler and engine rooms. However, it was also used to insulate piping systems which were found and exposed throughout the entire ship including the galley and the sleeping quarters.
Additionally, those who were involved with repairing navy vessels in shipyards were also exposed to asbestos. These individuals were constantly exposed due to the high concentrations of asbestos fibers in damaged and war-torn ships.
Statistics show that military personnel, including shipyard workers, who served during the 1940’s to the late 1970’s are at a higher risk of developing mesothelioma than any other occupation. Many of the ships that contained asbestos during World War II were still in service throughout the 1970’s. Removing asbestos from discontinued vessels put workers and veterans at risk since parts of the ships were often sold or used in other military branches, which again lead to additional asbestos exposure.
What to Do if You're Diagnosed
Asbestos doesn’t expire. In fact, it gets worse with age. If you’re a veteran or know of any veterans who have been exposed to asbestos and have an asbestos-related disease, such as mesothelioma, legal help is available to receive compensation for your medical bills and emotional strain. Contact an attorney today to know your options.