The dangers of asbestos exposure have been known for decades, yet workers were continually exposed to dangerous fibers during their time on the job during the 20th century. In the case of shipbuilders in the United States, the risk for an asbestos-related disease, like mesothelioma, is extremely high, due to the amount of exposure they experienced at work.
Shipbuilders worked different types of asbestos into almost every area of a ship. Asbestos was used to insulate boilers, steam pipes, hot water pipes, and incinerators on ships. It was sprayed on different areas, and asbestos-containing construction sheets were used through the 1970s. Asbestos was used for its insulating and fireproofing qualities, as well as its affordability.
Some occupations involved in shipbuilding that were at risk for coming into contact with asbestos are:
- and general laborers
The dangers of asbestos exposure had been known in the 1940s, but it was not until the end of the 1970s that precautions were taken to prevent exposure among workers. Since the symptoms of a cancer like mesothelioma can take anywhere from ten to seventy years to appear in an exposed individual, many shipbuilders are being diagnosed with the asbestos-related disease today.
If you have worked as a shipbuilder in the 20th century, you will want to alert your doctor to the possibility of a mesothelioma diagnosis in your lifetime. If you smoke tobacco you are even more at risk for developing asbestos-related disease than those that do not smoke. A doctor can help keep track of your respiratory health and help you quit smoking.