Kane Shipbuilding is one of the smallest shipyards in the state of Texas and primarily constructs and repairs United States Navy and Coast Guard ships. This shipyard is located in Galveston, Texas, and made itself known during World War II by building 12 coastal tankers and 16 deck barges for the U.S. Navy.
During the construction of these barges, many workers for Kane Shipbuilding were exposed to asbestos. Asbestos has a variety of uses in shipbuilding which include insulation and fireproofing. Many parts of a ship are covered in asbestos to prevent fires from occurring. Many daily tasks involved cutting, sanding, or shaping materials that contained asbestos. Materials were often sprayed with asbestos to make them fire retardant. However, this made it even easier for a worker to accidentally inhale these dangerous fibers.
Some of the materials aboard a ship that contain asbestos are the floors, ceilings, valves, gaskets, tiles, pipe insulation, and gears. Workers who repaired these sections were often exposed to high levels of asbestos and have the highest risk of mesothelioma. Others who are at risk of developing this cancer are the family members of those who worked at these shipyards. Studies have proven that family members of shipyard workers can develop mesothelioma through secondary exposure. Asbestos fibers can cling to many surfaces, such as clothes, and can be inadvertently transported to the worker’s home.
Asbestos fibers that are inhaled become trapped in the lining of vital organs such as the lungs, heart, or abdomen. Complicated health problems will occur since it is a challenge for the human body to remove them naturally. The problem with detection of mesothelioma is length of time that it takes for symptoms to show. For many shipyard workers, symptoms will not show up for 20 to 50 years after having been initially exposed to asbestos. In addition, many people find out about this condition after it is too late and the cancer has advanced to a later stage that is untreatable.