The ship building industry increased both the production of ships and the employment of ship workers in the 1940s during World War II. During the same period, asbestos was gaining popularity as an inexpensive filler for use in thousands of products because it was strong and resistant to heat, flame, and corrosion. These properties made asbestos a desirable material in the shipbuilding industry where the threat of heat and flame onboard ships was a concern. Unfortunately, the widespread use of the mineral in the industry put ship workers in the shipyard and onboard ships at increased risk of developing mesothelioma cancer from asbestos exposure.
Ship workers working on the construction and repair of vessels were likely exposed to asbestos as they handled asbestos insulation used around steam pipes, water pipes, pumps, engines and furnaces. Both installing and removing these materials created asbestos dust. This dust, made up of small asbestos fibers, could linger in the air putting all ship workers, including those who did not directly handle asbestos, at risk of exposure.
Ship workers not involved in ship construction, such as sailors and longshoremen, were at risk of exposure as well. Asbestos was used heavily onboard ships in boiler rooms, engines, sleeping quarters and hallways. The natural wear and tear on these products created asbestos dust as they broke down. When inhaled or ingested, tiny asbestos fibers can cause inflammation and scarring as the body attempts to reject the fibers. This buildup of scar tissue may lead to the development of peritoneal mesothelioma, pleural mesothelioma, or pericardial mesothelioma along with other asbestos-related diseases.
Because it generally takes 10 to 60 years from the time of exposure for mesothelioma symptoms to appear, we are only now seeing the terrible effects of asbestos use.
Many of the companies have established trust funds to pay compensation to persons injured by asbestos.
If you have mesothelioma, or other asbestos-related injury, and wish to consult an attorney about your legal rights to compensation, CLICK HERE for a free consultation.