From the World War II era to the early 1980s, shipyards were a place where exposure to asbestos was prevalent. Whether ships were being constructed, repaired or overhauled, such work would routinely cause asbestos fibers to become airborne where they could be inhaled.
Many materials used on ships contained asbestos because of its ability to withstand high temperatures and fire. In addition to this, asbestos helped prevent corrosion, which made it an ideal material for ship construction.
However, any disturbance to asbestos-containing materials increased the risk for those nearby of inhaling asbestos fibers. The inhalation of asbestos is the primary cause of malignant mesothelioma, a cancer that often carries a very poor prognosis.
Once the fibers are inhaled, they typically become lodged in the mesothelial lining of the lungs. Overtime, usually anywhere between 20 and 50 years, enough irritation occurs and mesothelioma tumors develop.
Areas aboard ships that commonly included asbestos-containing materials were boiler rooms, sleeping quarters and areas that required insulation such as piping and walls.
Occupations within the shipyard industry that carried a higher risk of asbestos exposure included welders, painters, machinists and others who made repairs on board. Navy veterans who were crew members on these ships were also at risk of being exposed to asbestos.
Those who feel they may have experienced asbestos exposure within the shipyard industry should seek regular medical checkups for signs of asbestos exposure. Receiving an early diagnosis for an asbestos-related disease not only opens the door to more treatment options, but gives a patient a better chance of combating the illness.
Additional information about mesothelioma and asbestos exposure may be found through the Mesothelioma Center.
Think you may have asbestos in your commercial location or residential home? EnviroVantage offers asbestos abatement services across New England.