Asbestos
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Asbestos in Shipyards

Asbestos was a major construction material for a great deal of the 20th century, most notably in shipyards. In these environments, the mineral was used for firewalls and insulation for boilers, pipes, and incinerators. Many of the people who worked at shipyards – such as shipbuilders, mechanics, construction workers, longshoremen, and crew members – have been exposed to asbestos. This carcinogen is linked to several illnesses, including mesothelioma, adenocarcinoma, and asbestosis. Even after the United States banned its use for new construction in 1989, asbestos used before then still resides in many buildings. As a result, workers on demolition projects continue to be at risk for exposure.

Risks of Asbestos Exposure in Shipyards

People who worked in shipyards are very likely to have been exposed to asbestos, given that the substance was used both by the United States military and commercial enterprises. Asbestos dust would often build up in areas where it was used, especially around mechanical or moving parts on ships, and many of these areas had poor ventilation. That means that not just workers were exposed to asbestos. The crew members who lived aboard the ships were heavily exposed, too.

Mesothelioma and Other Asbestos-Related Diseases

Because of this ongoing exposure, up to 86 percent of people who worked in shipyards for 20 years or more have asbestos-related diseases, according to one medical study. Those working between 1940 and 1970 are at the highest risk, as the Navy used asbestos extensively then. These diseases have a high latency period of 15 to 50 years after asbestos exposure to the initial symptoms, so effects on shipyard workers are still being diagnosed. The U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) now regulates asbestos in shipyards, but many workers over the last century have already been exposed.

If you have worked in a shipyard or on older ships, you may have been exposed to asbestos and be at risk for asbestos-related illnesses. These illnesses are always best treated when detected early, so let your doctor know that you worked in a shipyard and may have been exposed to asbestos. That way, he or she can set up regular health screenings for asbestos-related effects. Also get in touch with us. We can get you access to information that will help you best take care of your health.

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Last Edited: Thu November 14, 2013