Asbestos Exposure in the Shipyard Industry
Asbestos was used so extensively in the construction of naval battle ships because of its powerful heat-shielding and insulating capabilities.
In the 1970s, the federal government placed a moratorium on most asbestos products. However, installation and use of these products continued throughout the 1970s and well into the 1980s. As a result, ship scrappers working in shipyards in the 1940s through 1970s had particularly high chances of encountering asbestos, especially if they were working with boilers, furnaces, hot water and steam pipes, reactors, or heat-insulating walls on naval ships.
Damaged equipment and ship structures that had ruptured or been torn asunder in battle posed particularly dangerous asbestos exposure levels, as the asbestos covering the ship material surfaces was loose from the damage and more likely to become airborne. During the removal of parts and equipment, ship scrappers inhaled the asbestos, which would lead to devastating diseases decades later.