During the last century, many industrial workers were exposed to asbestos. Those working as various shipyards before the 1970’s were at a high risk of exposure. At Naval Station Ingleside, asbestos was used for a number of different materials. The base was equipped with facilities and vessels containing asbestos, although the facility’s main purpose wasn’t ship building. Thousands of sailors may have unknowingly been at risk of exposure.
Scientists and researchers were becoming aware of the dangers in the early 1930’s. Asbestos was still widely used despite a growing awareness of its dangers. The material wasn’t banned until four years later. Asbestos was used so much because of its low cost and ability to protect the vessels. It prevented damage from toxic chemicals, insulated piping, and kept walls and ceilings safe from fire. While it initially protected sailors and workers, those who inhaled large amounts were at risk of developing mesothelioma or other asbestos related diseases.
Workers at the naval station were often inside or maintaining vessels which contained high amounts of asbestos materials. Mesothelioma is dangerous, due to the difficulty to diagnose it correctly. Doctors are often unaware of patients’ previous exposure, and they don’t know what to look for. Many patients are unaware that they may have been exposed in their prior activities or work. Families of workers who were exposed may also be at risk. Dust can often settle on workers, going home on their clothes and risking families to possible exposure.
Individuals diagnosed with mesothelioma usually suffer from a severe life expectancy. Early treatment has been shown as the best option, but this route is difficult due to the amount of misdiagnosing that occurs. Many people have fallen victim to this deadly disease after being around these types of facilities.