Until a few decades ago, asbestos was used in various commercial, industrial, and residential materials. Because asbestos is extremely heat resistant, it was particularly popular for making fireproofing materials and fire-retardant insulation materials. In fact, manufacturers and contractors marketed asbestos as the ideal fireproofing material and insulator for places such as homes, schools, and ships.

Unfortunately, although asbestos-containing materials were great for protecting buildings and ships from fire, they presented a danger of their own. Specifically, it was discovered that asbestos exposure could cause mesothelioma, a fatal cancer affecting the lining around the lungs. In addition, asbestos used in fireproofing materials was linked to other serious diseases, like asbestosis and lung cancer. However, until the secret leaked out about thirty years ago, many consumers and workers were unaware of the risks presented by asbestos exposure.

Asbestos, Fireproofing Materials, & Shipyards

For many years, fireproofing materials containing asbestos were very popular on ships, especially naval ships. Specifically, asbestos was used as a fireproof insulation material in ships’ boilers, incinerators, hot water pipes, and steam pipes. In addition, asbestos was sprayed all over ship decks in order to prevent fires.

Unfortunately, many ship builders and navy members inhaled airborne asbestos fibers for years while at work. Asbestos levels in the air were often highly concentrated around shipyards due to the lack of ventilation. Additionally, shipyard workers and navy members rarely wore any protective gear to prevent asbestos exposure.

 As a result, many retired shipyard workers and navy veterans are now at risk for developing mesothelioma. In fact, a study conducted at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine found that 86% of shipyard workers with 20 or more years of experience developed asbestos-related lung disease or mesothelioma.

Although doctors and scientists issued warnings about the dangers associated with asbestos-containing materials, this information rarely made it to those who worked with asbestos each day, manufacturing or handling fireproofing materials. Disturbingly, many employers knew about these hazards, but the information was usually kept from employees in order to save money. As a result, many people were exposed to asbestos for years without knowing their health was in serious danger.

If you have mesothelioma due to working with fireproofing materials containing asbestos, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.

Published November 17, 2011 by