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Asbestos was used for decades in construction and shipbuilding. If you or someone close to you has worked as a drywaller, pipefitter, or in the Navy, you may have been exposed to harmful asbestos fibers. Learn more >

Mesothelioma is a deadly, elusive cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. We provide free resources to help you understand diagnosis, treatment, and more. Learn more >

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The Washington Navy Yard

The Washington Navy Yard of Washington, D.C. was established in 1799, making it the oldest shore establishment in the Navy. A number of important Navy assets have been constructed here over the centuries, from ships to weapons. During World War II, this site was the largest naval weapons and ammunition plant in the world. In 1976, the Yard was designated a National Historic Landmark, and is currently home to the Navy Museum, and the Naval District Washington headquarters.

While asbestos exposure in the Navy is often associated with shipbuilding, the toxic mineral was used in a variety of ways. Even though ships have not been constructed at the Washington Navy Yard since the War of 1812, people who worked in its weapons factories during the 20th century may still be at risk for asbestos-related conditions.

Asbestos and the Washington Navy Yard

Like people who constructed ships, people who constructed weapons and ammunition for the Navy prior to 1970 may be at risk for asbestos-related conditions. Because asbestos is highly resistant to heat, flame, and chemicals, it was once a popular component in Navy ordnance and other materials. Veterans and civilians who worked at the Washington Navy Yard may have been exposed to asbestos in:

  • Insulation and drywall in office buildings
  • Fireproofing materials for constructing or storing munitions
  • Soundproofing materials in factories

When materials like these are bent, broken, removed, or otherwise manipulated, asbestos dust can be released into the air and inhaled. This can cause extensive damage to the lungs and other internal organs, which may develop into life-threatening conditions such as mesothelioma over time. Sadly, diseases like mesothelioma and lung cancer often develop so slowly – sometimes over the course of decades – that they are often not diagnosed until they reach advanced stages.

If you worked in a Navy shipyard prior to 1970, it is very important to tell your doctor that you may have been exposed to asbestos. This will help him or her monitor your health to increase the chances of catching any resulting health problems early.

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