Did you know the United States Navy used asbestos in more than 300 products onboard their ships, and much of that asbestos still exists onboard today? Our veterans have been, and still are, at risk for mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses. Isn’t it time the United States did something to protect our veterans from this toxic material?

WHY WAS ASBESTOS USED TO BEGIN WITH?

Before its dangers were known, asbestos was widely used in building and manufacturing all over the world.

The material was popular for two reasons:

  1. it’s nearly indestructible and fire-proof.
  2. it’s cheap and easy to acquire because it’s a naturally occurring mineral that had been mined for 4,000 years.

Until the mid-1970s, the Navy used asbestos-laden materials to construct their ships. It’s a strong tensile material and it was affordable. Moreover, asbestos had a natural resistance to heat and chemicals. It was unknown the exact health risks of exposure, so all ships constructed prior to the mid-1970s feature asbestos.

Unfortunately, asbestos was used in nearly every element/area of design – from the engine to the sleeping quarters of passengers. Some items containing asbestos include:

  • Bedding compounds
  • Deck materials
  • Cables
  • Insulation
  • Boilers
  • Paneling

THE DANGERS OF ASBESTOS

Over time, it was discovered that asbestos inhalation is dangerous. According to Cancer.gov, “Asbestos has been classified as a known human carcinogen (a substance that causes cancer).” Asbestos inhalation increases the risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma (“a relatively rare cancer of the thin membranes that line the chest and abdomen.”)

There are a variety of asbestos-related illnesses, including:

  • Gastrointestinal and colorectal cancers
  • Throat, kidney, esophagus, and gallbladder problems
  • Asbestosis (inflamed lungs, shortness of breath, and permanent lung damage)
  • Nonmalignant lung and pleural disorders

If you’ve been exposed to asbestos in navy ships, you should seek out medical treatment immediately, and you may benefit greatly from speaking to an attorney. According to Fight Mesothelioma, “Untold numbers of men and women who served in the military were exposed to dangerous materials containing asbestos.”

WHY HASN’T ALL THE ASBESTOS BEEN REMOVED FROM NAVY SHIPS?

Some efforts have been made to remove asbestos from Navy ships, but a lot of asbestos still remains. Unfortunately, the material breaks down with age making it hazardous to remove. It can break or crumble as it’s eliminated, thus further exposing individuals. The result is that many ships remain contaminated, which puts veterans at risk.

Specially trained removers are capable of eliminating asbestos, and it’s high time the United States government invested in the health and welfare of its military. Asbestos can be safely disposed of in landfills that accept it as waste. Once removed, the military can work on replacing the material with a safer option.