Mesothelioma risk to boatbuilders is substantial
Since mesothelioma is not easy to diagnose, it is essential that people who may have been exposed to asbestos alert their physician, even if they haven’t had any clear symptoms yet. This rare type of cancer is very aggressive, but there are surgical procedures that may help, if it is discovered early on in the disease’s progression.
Decades ago, the boatbuilding industry harnessed the great insulating powers of asbestos, which is very resistant to heat and all kinds of chemical and electrical damage. Unfortunately, we now know asbestos can cause very serious health problems, including mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis.
Before the public at large was aware of the potential health risks, asbestos was used extensively in Navy. During World War II, in the mad rush to build war ships, the Navy used asbestos to insulate boilers, steam and water pipes, and in incinerating compartments. Although there were clear signs the asbestos dust that gathered in the insufficiently ventilated areas of ships might be a health hazard, it took a long time forasbestos to be banned from the crowded shipyards of the boatbuilding industry.
In the ’80s, a study covering a population of former boatbuilding workers found that 86 percent of them suffered from a condition connected to asbestos contamination—mainly lung cancer and mesothelioma
Today, government regulations strive to protect workers from asbestos exposure, and its use has been altogether banned in the European Union since 2005. However, millions of honest, hard-working people have touched and breathed poisonous asbestos fibers for decades on end; and the devastating consequences are still unfolding.