Asbestos has many useful properties. It is known to be a strong and durable mineral. It is also a heat resistant product that can withstand extremely hot temperatures. This mineral was sold as an inexpensive but superior quality substance that can be combined with numerous items.
Many American industrial companies became fond of asbestos products. This mineral was useful in producing durable insulation items, such as sheet packing. Sheet packing was used to protect gaskets and valves inside hot running machines found on ships, as well as joints or gears that were prone to reaching elevated temperatures. The heat-resistance of the sheet packing ensured against overheating and accidental fires. It was normally purchased in bulk orders.
Men and women who worked in shipyards or sailed on these vessels, those who worked in the manufacture of sheet packing, and workers in other industries that used the packing were at risk of illnesses related to asbestos exposure. Today, many Navy veterans who were on these asbestos filled ships are now living with the unfortunate consequences.
Scientists soon learn about the many dangers of asbestos exposure. This mineral is very toxic, and asbestos exposure has been associated with asbestosis and mesothelioma, both of which can be contracted by inhaling the microscopic dust fragments. These particles can become airborne once the break off from their source. In order for the sheet packing to fit correctly, it needs to be adjusted by sanding and cutting. This would release microscopic dust fibers into the air. There is not a cure for this disease, but there are clinics that specialize in experimental and conventional treatments.
Eventually people realized how dangerous asbestos sheet packing was so, it was removed from the naval ships. Some non-military ships still contain this product. Removal of asbestos should only be done by certified workers.