Asbestos Exposure and Our Veterans
Asbestosis, Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma are very real diseases many of our veterans’ face today due mostly to on board naval service. Between the post-World War One period, right through to the Vietnam conflict, asbestos products were used in many capacities on ships in just about every vessel in the U.S. Navy, Merchant Marines and U.S. Coast Guard. From wrapping steam lines and pipe fittings to fireproofing ships, bulkheads, hatches, doors and even used as insulation between decks, asbestos products were abundant in naval vessels and shipyards. Many service men came in direct contact and exposure to asbestos products, and where routine overhauling on board occurred, asbestos dust and particles were present and contaminated whole ships. Over-crowding, poor ventilation and constant exposure exacerbated the problems and whether in port or living ship board, sailors were constantly exposure to the dangers asbestos products presented. Certain onboard occupations were at greater risk such as engine room machinists, electricians, naval carpenters, fireman and steam fitters, all were constantly exposure to asbestos products, and because of the need for redundant repairs, those exposures posed there greatest dangers.
Many private naval contractors were also exposed to hazardous asbestos materials while performing government contract. These workers, while not in service to the U.S. Government do have a course of redress against the manufacturers of asbestos products used in the naval industry.