In the 1940s, as the demand for naval ships increased during World War II, the shipbuilding industry increased production and employment of ship builders to keep up with demands. During this same period in the 20th century, tons of asbestos were mined in the United States and used by manufacturers as filler in thousands of products. Asbestos, now known to cause mesothelioma, asbestosis and other illnesses, gained popularity because the inexpensive mineral was strong, flexible, and resistant to corrosion, heat and fire. Because of the high heat and threat of fire on board ships, asbestos was a seemingly ideal material for use in ship building.
As shipbuilders worked to construct and repair these ships, they were exposed to asbestos as they installed asbestos materials used to insulate boilers, steam pipes, water pipes, pumps, furnaces, and engines. Much of this same equipment also utilized asbestos parts, such as asbestos gaskets. Miles of pipes and wiring were insulated with asbestos and installed in each vessel. This insulation often needed to be cut and sanded to fit specific applications. The alteration of these materials caused dangerous amounts of asbestos dust to circulate throughout the shipyard.
When repairing ships, the removal of worn out and damaged asbestos materials also exposed shipbuilders who were rarely provided with protective gear to decrease their risk of exposure. These tiny asbestos fibers then lingered in the air around ship yards, putting all ship yard workers in danger of inhaling or ingesting the dangerous mineral. Once inside the body, these fibers could cause inflammation and scarring in organ tissue that could lead to the development of mesothelioma cancer, lung cancer, and other asbestos-related diseases.
Sadly, in the United States, millions of people have been exposed to asbestos. Because it generally takes 10 to 60 years from the time of asbestos exposure for mesothelioma symptoms to appear, we are only now seeing the terrible effects of asbestos use.
Trust funds have been established by many companies to pay compensation to those injured by asbestos exposure.
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.