Located in South Carolina, the Braswell Services Group operated multiple businesses that supported the local shipbuilding industries. During the last century, especially the first part with both world wars, shipyards thrived across the US. Businesses like this supplied and supported such activities during that time period. After the major wars, shipyards transitioned to mostly commercial use, but still maintained many of the practices and materials that were previously in use.
Asbestos, now known to be a carcinogen that causes diseases like mesothelioma and asbestosis, was a common building material used during that time period. It was not recognized until the mid 1970s as a dangerous substance that needed to be banned. Since it was located in vast deposits across the US, it was viewed as a cheap material with great shipbuilding properties. The most attractive attributes of the material is its ability to resist heat and extremely caustic chemicals, both of which are required when building and maintaining a ship.
Many shipyard employees across the US were exposed to the material on a daily basis. Those who installed, maintained, or worked in environments that contained asbestos are thought to be at particular risk. Dust is commonly dislodged from materials covered with it, and can easily be inhaled by humans. Once it enters the body, there is no natural method for it to be eliminated. After enough of the material builds up, it can start to affect the cells of membranes that line essential organs.
Mesothelioma can take decades to actually develop. Many people who have previously worked in shipyards have long forgotten that they ever dealt with asbestos. Researchers believe that the actual incidence of the disease have been widely under reported across the US. This is caused by the fact that many people don’t tell their doctor of previous exposure, and the actual cause of their illness goes undetected. It is important to note, however, that very few people who have actually been exposed will develop such diseases.
There are a wide host of diseases that are associated with asbestos exposure. Mesothelioma is rare, but can occur in people who have spent extended periods of time around the material. Being able to link previous exposure with current symptoms is thought to be essential.