Deckhands and Sailors and Asbestos Exposure
Any deckhand or sailor working in the merchant marine industry may have been exposed to asbestos on freighters, tugs, and transport vessels.
From the 1920s to the late 1980s, asbestos was used as a primary material and mixed into every type of shipbuilding product. This put every sailor and deckhand in close contact with large amounts of asbestos for long durations.
As a result, all mariners employed before the 1980s face a high risk of developing mesothelioma.
How Deckhands and Sailors Were Exposed to Asbestos
Nearly every component on military and civilian vessels contained asbestos. Due to routine maintenance and emergency repairs, these asbestos-containing products were constantly disturbed, releasing asbestos into the air.
Deckhands and sailors experienced higher rates of asbestos exposure when performing work below deck compared to surface duties.
While asbestos materials were also present on the upper deck, wind prevented asbestos fibers from lingering in the air where they could be inhaled.
Ship hulls, engine areas, and boiler rooms, on the other hand, were cramped spaces with poor ventilation which trapped airborne asbestos fibers.
Asbestos Exposure Was Unavoidable
A ship’s working environment was not the only place where deckhands and sailors were at risk. Asbestos was used in their galleys and sleeping quarters as well.
Fibers floated in stowage areas, control centers, and even on the navigation bridges. Clothing and personal items were thoroughly contaminated. Asbestos was unavoidable on ships built in the World War II era and the following decades.