Asbestos use in U.S. naval ships built before 1980 was widespread. The Navy once was impressed with all the versatile properties of the asbestos mineral, including resistance to heat damage, chemical damage, and incredible strength. Asbestos could be used as an excellent insulator, and could secure fireproofing for all parts of the ships. The decision by the Navy to use asbestos products to build ships came before the dangers of asbestos were discovered.
Over time, the mineral was scientifically and medically determined to be toxic and the cause of mesothelioma and other severe asbestos-related diseases and conditions. Since the U.S. Navy included asbestos in nearly 300 products aboard its ships, many military veterans are reporting respiratory damage and complications. Veterans were placed at risk for mesothelioma because of its extensive use on Navy ships. Many veterans have contracted mesothelioma.
The Materials that Used Asbestos on Naval Ships
As Navy ships were being constructed before the mid-1970s, medical researchers had already released information to the public about the dangers and toxicity of asbestos. The connection between asbestos and mesothelioma was scientifically confirmed, yet many Navy ships already had been built using asbestos. Not only were common areas aboard these ships laden with asbestos, but sleeping quarters, navigation rooms, boiler and engine rooms were as well. There were not many places aboard these Navy ships where sailors were not exposed to the toxic material.
Over the last few decades, fewer products containing asbestos have been used in Navy ships or at the shipyards. Currently, the U.S. Navy is aware of the toxic nature of the material and has moved into a more active role in asbestos removal on the ships. However, the issue that gives cause for concern is that asbestos becomes extremely brittle during the aging process. That makes removal a serious project that requires the protection of everyone involved so that more people are not exposed to the dangerous asbestos fibers.
Even though the U.S. Navy has taken the initiative to begin removing asbestos from ships, many ships remain contaminated and represent a health risk. The unfortunate news is that, over the last three decades, asbestos on Navy ships had become a routine part of daily life. Daily exposure to the toxic material has now led to an increased caseload of Navy veterans with lung problems, including mesothelioma.
How Asbestos Exposure Occurs in Naval Ships
As sailors lived and worked aboard Navy ships, they expericenced prolonged exposure to harmful asbestos. Asbestos fibers entered the lungs of unprotected workers and became implanted in the pleural mesothelium, the lining of the lungs. For many, the persistent exposure triggered a buildup of fibers that then led to asbestos-related respiratory conditions or in some cases tumor growth, which then developed into mesothelioma. If pleural mesothelioma is the diagnosis, then two years or less is the life expectancy.
The growing number of concerns and cases of serious health issues has led many affected shipyard workers, sailors, officers, and their families to seek legal advice. Many affected have received settlements from their employers and judgments to their favor. These successful cases allow those affected to have the financial ability to pay for medical expenses and lost wages.