Asbestos was once used by many product manufacturers, including manufacturers of ships, due to its strength, heat resistance and pliability. The Navy used particularly heavy amounts of asbestos in the building of its ships. Unfortunately, this once-celebrated fiber is the only known cause of mesothelioma. Because the warning signs of mesothelioma may not appear for 20 to 40 years, treatment options upon diagnosis may be limited.
More than a quarter of all mesothelioma patients are estimated to be former sailors and ship builders. The Navy used asbestos in insulation, pipe coverings, gaskets, felts, meters, deck coverings and adhesives, among other materials. Because many of the quarters on Navy ships were cramped and unventilated, U.S. sailors were often in danger of exposure.
Unfortunately, even though it appears that the Navy did know about at least some of the dangers posed by asbestos, the demand for ships often outweighed the concern for sailors' asbestos exposure. It was not until the mid-1970s that the U.S. government decided to regulate the levels and amounts of asbestos exposure.
Asbestos fibers can become lodged in the linings of organs — including the lungs, digestive system and heart — and cause inflammation, cellular damage and a variety of terminal diseases, including mesothelioma. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, speaking with an experienced lawyer may be in your best interest.
Learn more about asbestos exposure in naval ships and shipyards. Contact Kaiser Gornick LLP to speak with an attorney and get the help you and your family need. Call for a free consultation at our San Francisco/Bay Area office.