Naval engineers, shipbuilders, and dockyard employees were not supplied with any kind of protection against asbestos exposure, nor were they informed about the health risks associated with exposure.
Prior to late 1970, these employees came into contact with high levels of asbestos, making them and their family members more likely to develop diseases such as asbestosis, mesothelioma, and lung cancer. The rough texture and small size of the asbestos fibers allow them to easily adhere to clothes, hair, and skin. Although family members had no direct contact with asbestos-containing products, the quantity of dust carried home was sufficient to cause an asbestos-related illness later in life. A substantial proportion of asbestos-related cancer cases in women and children are the result of secondary exposure. Children who are inadvertently exposed to asbestos may develop an asbestos-related illness in their later years.
Secondary Exposure Carries the Same Risks as Primary Exposure
As the use of asbestos increased, occupational health professionals became more aware of the danger of asbestos fibers in the workplace. Studies showing the risks of asbestos exposure date back to the 1940s, but the asbestos industry refused to recognize that inhaled asbestos fibers might remain within the body, posing a health risk. In certain instances, secondary exposure has reached occupational levels. This is more likely to occur when a person is working in a high-exposure sector, such as shipbuilding.
An article in the Archives of Environmental and Occupational Health in 2017 found that shipyard employees who had a moderate degree of asbestos exposure were almost four times more likely to die from mesothelioma than those who had a low level of exposure. Less severe asbestos-related illnesses, such as pleural plaques, may also occur.
Secondhand asbestos exposure is just as hazardous as primary asbestos exposure. When someone is exposed to asbestos, whether directly or indirectly, particularly repeatedly and over an extended period of time, severe and deadly illnesses often emerge.
Asbestos Was Used in Most Shipyards from the 1930s to the 1980s
Roughly 4,500,000 men and women worked in shipyard jobs that may have exposed them to asbestos during WWII. In 1943, about one out of every 500 shipyard employees worked as an asbestos insulator. Other shipyard jobs that directly exposed employees to asbestos included the following:
Following WWII, the projected number of shipyard workers fell from 1,700,000 in 1943 to about 200,000. Between 1946 and 1976, the shipyard workforce remained relatively stable at this level, with minor fluctuations due to economic circumstances and changes in the shipbuilding industry.
U.S. shipyards in which asbestos exposure was highly likely to have occurred include:
- Alabama Dry Dock
- Albina Shipyard
- Barbours Cut Docks
- Bethlehem Steel Shipyard
- Bremerton Naval Shipyard
- Brooklyn Navy Yard
- Caddell Dry Dock
- California Navy Shipyard
- Charleston Naval Shipyard
- Consolidated Steel Shipyards
- Curtis Bay Coast Guard Yard
- Defoe Shipyard
- Duwamish Shipyard
- GMD Shipyard
- Houston Shipyards
- Hunters Point Naval Shipyard
- Ingalls Shipbuilding
- Kane Shipbuilding
- Kaiser Shipyard
- Lockheed Shipyard
- Long Beach Naval Shipyard
- Moore Dry Dock
- Naval Station Everett
- Naval Weapons Station
- Newport News Naval Shipyard
- Norfolk Naval Shipyard
- Orange Shipbuilding
- Pearl Harbor Shipyard
- Pensacola Naval Air Station
- Portsmouth Naval Shipyard
- San Diego Naval Shipyard
- San Francisco Drydock
- Seward Ships Drydock
- Sun Shipbuilding
- Tacoma Drydock
- Todd Shipyards
- Washington Navy Yard
- Willamette Iron and Steel Works
Shipyard Workers Unintentionally Brought Asbestos Fibers Home on Their Hair, Skin, and Clothes
Unfortunately, the shipyard employees, especially those who were highly exposed to asbestos, may have put unwittingly their loved ones at risk. Given the ability of asbestos particles to adhere to clothes, hair, and even the skin, it is possible that asbestos fibers were unintentionally transported home before a shipyard worker had a chance to wash them away. Despite the fact that they have never worked in an at-risk job, family members of shipyard employees are nonetheless susceptible to secondhand asbestos exposure.
Sources of Secondary Asbestos Exposure
- Washing contaminated clothes - A substantial danger for secondhand exposure was posed by the clothes worn by workers who handled asbestos-containing products. Because of the jagged nature of the fibers, the tiny particles were able to attach themselves to clothes with relative ease. Anyone who came into contact with or washed these work clothing was most likely exposed to asbestos in an indirect manner.
- Direct physical contact - If a shipyard worker returned home with fibers clinging to their hair, skin, or clothing and then embraced their children or spouse, these were most likely exposed to the carcinogen indirectly. Some asbestos-related cancer cases have arisen from youngsters sitting on their father's or grandfather's lap after he returned home from work.
- Contact with asbestos-contaminated furniture - Workers who have asbestos dust on their skin or clothes may contaminate household furnishings. Furniture in the home, from sofas and carpets to beds and chairs, may get contaminated with asbestos if exposed employees come into touch with it.
We Can Help Victims of Secondary Asbestos Exposure by Connecting Them With a Qualified Lawyer
If you worked in a shipyard or as a sailor in the U.S. Navy between World War II and the late 1970s, and experience serious health symptoms, you should tell your doctor about your employment history. Navy, Coast Guard, U.S. Army Transport Service and Merchant Marine veterans diagnosed with asbestos-related illnesses may be entitled to compensation to pay their medical bills, lost income, and other expenditures.
Secondary asbestos exposure sufferers are also entitled to financial compensation. Although the legal procedure is more difficult, a lawyer who specializes in asbestos cases and has extensive professional expertise would be able to assist them significantly. We can assist you and your family through this difficult time by connecting you with experienced attorneys who can aid you in getting the compensation you deserve for your pain and suffering. Please contact us now for more information.