Shipyard workers faced some of the highest risks of occupational asbestos exposure. Many ships used asbestos-containing materials during construction in large volumes. Peak usage of asbestos for ship building coincided with peak usage around the globe, during the period from 1973-1978.
Shipbuilders used asbestos to insulate hulls, boilers, and pipes. They also lined ship hulls and structural walls with asbestos as a fireproofing material.
Researchers estimate that millions of workers were exposed to asbestos during ship construction. A surge of ship building during and after World War II presented a particularly problematic period for exposure. Workers brought in an estimated 25 million tons of asbestos during this period.
The issue of asbestos exposure with ships from these eras has escalated to the point where their toxicity makes disposing of them problematic. The ships cannot be sunk at sea, nor can they be dismantled safely in the U.S.
Shipyard Workers and Asbestos-Related Cancer Risk
Because of their massive exposure levels, shipyard workers have some of the highest documented rates of asbestos-related cancer. Workers who installed asbestos insulation on ships face the highest risk.
An early study noted that thousands of such workers died prematurely. 20 percent of those cases related to lung cancer, with an additional six to seven percent from mesothelioma of the pleura and peritoneum.
A study of Hawaiian shipyard workers employed during World War II found similarly high rates of cancer diagnosis and related death. Workers at Pearl Harbor Navy yards had over 11.5 times the rate of cancer, compared to the state’s background rate.
These studies and others like them point to a high risk of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related cancer among shipyard workers.
Notable Shipyard Locations with Asbestos Exposure Risk
- Norfolk, Virginia
- Hampton, Virginia
- Newport News, Virginia
- Long Island, New York
- Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
If you or a close family member once worked in a shipyard and have since been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, you could be entitled to compensation.
Contact Mesowatch now to receive immediate assistance and a free, confidential case evaluation. You will connect with our nationwide team of attorneys, who will use their experience and knowledge to help you quickly identify all liable parties and trust funds and pursue the maximum possible compensation.