Flight Deck Supervisors and Asbestos Exposure

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The flight deck of a Navy carrier is not an easy place to work - the cramped space, noise levels, and heavy air can generate immediate risk factors, as well as severe long-term effects.

A flight deck supervisor was in charge of ensuring the safe operation of the airplane, which implied repairs, maintenance, and stowing of aircraft-related equipment.

They had to stand guard on flight lines and handle tasks involving aircraft take-off and landing.

They were constantly in contact with numerous asbestos elements, and therefore very susceptible to developing serious diseases.

Manufacturers who sold asbestos products were well aware of the health hazards, which they neglected since the demand was high due to the versatility and low cost of the material. Its use was widely spread to all areas of armed forces operations for building vehicles, bases, weapons, and gear, as it was water and heat-resistant, with increased tolerance to any form of damage.

Before 1980, all servicemen who worked in the U.S. Navy and Air Force were in danger of asbestos exposure. As a result, many veterans are now struggling with serious diseases, diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestosis, or lung cancer.

According to Harold G., aboard the USS Picking (DD-685): "We were unaware of how widely spread this toxic mineral was, and how much we were interacting with it in everything around us. Knowing that we were breathing highly contaminated air day by day is horrific, given the dreadful consequences building up in time."

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