The Lung Association, a prominent Canadian health charity, is recommending that naval veterans who worked aboard ship or at shipyard facilities from the World War II era through the 1970s seek medical examinations and assessments for asbestos exposure. Veterans who worked on ships or in shipyards during that time period may have been exposed to asbestos fibers and may be at risk of developing asbestos-related diseases. Until the 1970s, the Royal Canadian Navy, like most naval forces around the world, made heavy use of asbestos in insulation aboard ships, primarily around pipes and boilers and as a bulkhead liner.
Asbestos is extremely fire-resistant and was widely used aboard ship through the 1970s. In addition to shipboard exposure, veterans who worked in shipyards as pipe fitters may have been exposed, as well as anyone who slept near or handled raw asbestos insulation. Many veterans have already developed asbestos-related breathing diseases, as a result of the toxic mineral’s progressive damaging of lung and mesothelial tissues. The Lung Association urges veterans to tell their physicians about any possible asbestos exposure and to request examination. Those diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases may qualify for disability benefits.