Navy Veterans Continue To Be Haunted By Asbestos
During World War II, the Navy made a concerted effort to use a “wonder product” called asbestos in building its ships.
Nearly every Navy ship built between the 1930s and 1970s contained a significant amount of asbestos, a cheap, durable and effective insulator.
Over 300 products on Navy ships contained asbestos.
Asbestos causes serious and fatal illnesses, including mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer.
It is estimated that about 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year in the United States.
Veterans and shipyard workers account for over 30 percent of mesothelioma cases.
Many asbestos-related illnesses do not appear until 20 to 50 years after exposure.
Navy ships of all types and classes, including aircraft carriers, destroyers and submarines, contained asbestos.
Exposure was highest among those who worked below deck, where it was poorly ventilated.
Occupations at high risk of exposure include:*
• Pipe laggers and sprayers
• Welders and burners
• Electrical fitters
• Engine fitters
• Plumbers and coppersmiths
*Geoffrey Sheers M.D. & Ruth M. Coles B.Sc. (1980) Mesothelioma Risks in a Naval Dockyard, Archives of Environmental Health: An International Journal, 35:5, 276-282.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, high concentrations of asbestos could be found on Navy ships in:
(suggestion: display with a cross section of ship.)
Boilers on Navy ships were insulated in asbestos material, as well as loose-packed asbestos. Asbestos could circulate in the air for hours. Boilermen have been particularly susceptible to mesothelioma.
Pumps used in heating, cooling and bilge systems contained asbestos insulation. Machinist’s mates, responsible for maintaining the pumps, were often exposed to significant amounts of asbestos.
Running throughout ships, pipe insulation contained anywhere from 5 to 50 percent asbestos. Mechanics, tasked with fixing pipes and valves, often became exposed to asbestos dust.
Asbestos was also frequently found in:
Navy veterans have more options than many in pursuing help with medical expenses and compensation. Veterans can:
• Pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the manufacturer of the asbestos (your lawyer can help establish the manufacturer responsible for your exposure through Navy records)
• File an administrative claim against a trust established for victims of asbestos exposure
• File for veterans benefits
There are legal deadlines for filing claims, so act now or you risk losing your rights.