Use of asbestos increased significantly during and after the Second World War. This was mainly due to the asbestos manufacturing companies that mass-produced asbestos based products for use on U.S. Navy ships. This led to thousands of sailors and workers getting inadvertently exposed to lethal asbestos dust while cutting and modifying insulation products. Decades later, many of these individuals would contract asbestos-based complications and diseases.
For around 5 decades, just before the mid-1970’s, insulation products manufactured by the asbestos industry were installed in most homes, schools, buildings, cars, planes, and ships in America. Notably, asbestos manufacturers were well aware of the long-term consequences of asbestos exposure, but they simply ignored them. The U.S. Navy came to know about the dangers of asbestos exposure only after the 1970’s. But this came a bit late for the hundreds of thousands of veterans who developed asbestos based diseases such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis due to the unnecessary exposure.
Asbestos cancer reduced the average life span of Veterans
After serving the country and retiring from active duties, most veterans belonging to the asbestos era started a life outside the military. Most of them married, took up new careers, and raised families – without ever knowing that the type of asbestos exposure they had in the military can cruelly reduce their life span. Several decades later and nearing retirement, many of these veterans could not have the pleasure of spending their golden years in the company of family and friends.
No location was safe aboard ships
The occupational diversity recorded amongst victims of asbestos diseases is evidence to the fact that no one was immune. In many cases, even family members were affected. Although the risk of developing asbestos related diseases was more for workers deployed in fire and engine rooms, there was no safe location aboard ships, be it the mess halls, navigation rooms or the sleeping quarters. Thousands of workers deployed at dry docks and shipyards were exposed to asbestos.