In 1953 Seattle, Washington became the home of the Marco Shipyard. This site would quickly become one of the largest builders of steel and aluminum based vessels in all of the United States. Its close proximity to the Pacific made it an ideal location for creating new ships, and thousands of people were hired to help keep keep up with the high level of production that was demanded at the facility.
For more than two decades the people who worked at the Marco Shipyard spent much of their day laboring around products that contained asbestos. This naturally occurring mineral was put into hundreds of goods, such as the insulation that helped regulate the temperature within the large equipment that was utilized by every shipyard. Unbeknownst to these workers, the asbestos they came in contact with on a daily basis was toxic, and their health was put at risk just by being around it.
The discovery of asbestos in the United States dates back to the 1800's. In fact, the mineral was so plentiful and inexpensive that it was considered to be one of the greatest natural resources ever discovered, and it helped to make the American Industrial Revolution such a tremendously successful period of time. When it was originally found, people were not aware of the hazardous properties the mineral contained, and it was soon being used within hundreds of different products. It would be nearly a century later that the general public began to understand that the mineral once referred to as a "miracle material" was actually poisonous, and that it had been responsible for millions of people become very ill, and even claimed the lives of thousands of victims.
While products containing asbestos were in use, everyone who worked at the Marco Shipyard was subjected to inhaling microscopic particles of the mineral that would break free and float in the air. After these particles were ingested, they would often do copious amounts of internal damage such as scarring lung tissue, creating severe breathing disorders and eventually developing into cancerous diseases, including the often deadly mesothelioma. Because symptoms of these conditions usually took years to develop, even people who worked at the Seattle based facility long ago may still be at risk today. Anyone who spent time in or around this shipyard should notify their doctor about this risk as soon as possible and set up an appointment for a physical examination.
Last modified: December 28, 2010.