Anyone who was in the U.S. Navy before 1980 may be at risk for mesothelioma, a rare and dangerous type of cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos. It was once used in thousands of products and causes several deadly illnesses.
One of the career paths that put the most people at risk for mesothelioma was the Navy. One of the many products and materials that once contained asbestos used in the Navy was navy sealer, used to coat various surfaces to make them waterproof and fire-resistant. Even individuals who did not work directly with navy sealer could have been exposed to asbestos as time passed and the ships and the navy sealer began to deteriorate. When asbestos deteriorates, it can disintegrate into dust that can easily become airborne. Since there is little air circulation on board a ship, chances are pretty high that Navy personnel inhaled it.
Navy sealer and other asbestos-containing products were also used on the naval bases. At any time asbestos fibers could have been ingested and even carried home on clothing, thus exposing friends and family members. Many older ships still contain navy sealer that was made with asbestos. Renovating an old ship like this, if not done very carefully, puts those workers at risk as well.