Asbestos in Shipyards

Date: June 10, 2024

Edited and reviewed by Dave Halpern

Key Takeaways

  • Asbestos was used in shipyards because of its durability and fire/heat resistant properties
  • Studies have shown that shipyard workers have an increased number of mesothelioma and lung cancer occurrences
  • There are many cases of mesothelioma, asbestosis, and asbestos-related lung cancer from an increased numbers in members of the Navy from World War II
  • Shipyard workers’ families could have second-hand exposure to asbestos

Mesothelioma and Lung Cancer in Shipyards

Shipyards have many occupational hazards. Workers could be injured from working on highly elevated and tight spaces, operating heavy machinery, and slips and falls. Along with this, shipyard workers could be exposed to asbestos. Asbestos is used in shipyards because it is durable, heat-resistant, and fire-proof. Old ships that are taken apart to be used for scraps release asbestos fibers into the air. When inhaled, these fibers can affect organ lining in the lungs, heart, abdomen, and tested. This can form a type of cancer called mesothelioma. Lung cancer and other respiratory issues can develop due to asbestos exposure as well.

History of Asbestos in Shipyards

The United States Navy used ships that contained or were made with asbestos during World War II. Asbestos was also transported on these ships, further exposing crew members and dock workers. Due to the number of Americans who were called to fight the war, many more people were in the army than usual.

A study conducted on 4,700 shipyard workers found increased deaths that were a result of respiratory issues and mesothelioma. In Geno, Italy, almost a quarter of lung cancer cases could be directly linked to exposure to asbestos. Workers who are not adequately protected against asbestos exposure are subject to life-threatening illnesses. On average, death from asbestosis for shipyard workers is sixteen times higher than it is for other occupations. Not only does asbestos affect those on the ship who are directly breathing in the fibers, but it can also affect their families. When a worker who has been around asbestos comes home with it caked onto their clothes, whoever washes it experiences a second-hand exposure. For example, if a shipyard worker comes home after a shift and his wife shakes his work clothes to dust off powdery white asbestos before tossing it in the wash, she is breathing in the fibers as well.


If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, The Halpern Law Firm can help you file a claim and receive compensation. Contact 1-800-505-6000 to speak with us. The specialized team is dedicated to ensuring your claim is handled quickly.

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