Resources for Patients and their Families

American Foreign Steamship

The American Foreign Steamship is still headquartered in New York City. For most of the 20th Century, this company ran a fleet of freighters that sailed to nearly every port in the world. The company purchased several former U.S. Naval vessels in the years following the Second World War, such as Liberty Ships and attack transports. They converted these to civilian use and operated many of them into the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Prior to 1980, asbestos was used extensively throughout ship construction, particularly in the engine room and between decks and bulkheads. Prior to 1943, shipbuilders did not provide employees with respirators or other safety equipment, and even when it was available, this equipment was not always used. Many former shipyard workers, naval veterans and merchant seamen have contracted asbestos diseases like mesothelioma as a result of this exposure.

American Foreign Steamship has been involved in a number of legal actions over the decades. While the company may have been a named defendant in the past, ultimate asbestos injury liability rests with the shipbuilder or even the manufacturer of the asbestos product.

This firm was one of the numerous corporate bodies that, in the first seven decades of the 20th century, used the naturally occurring mineral known as asbestos for its ability to withstand flame. Although asbestos' strength as an insulator certainly saved lives, the long-term results of using it were horrible: thousands of laborers developed serious illness and even died due to exposure to asbestos. The illnesses caused by asbestos include asbestosis and cancer. The biggest risk of developing these conditions happens when asbestos-containing materials become friable, releasing strands into the air where they are available to inhale or ingest. A history of exposure to asbestos is a known cause of the terminal form of cancer known as mesothelioma disease, which develops as a tumor of the cells that line the pleural cavity.

Because statistics have shown the link between inhaling asbestos and conditions like lung cancer, modern-day workers are protected by state and federal guidelines that control how asbestos is to be handled. People who worked near asbestos before such laws were passed, however, commonly spent their work days in sites where asbestos microfibers were prevalent. They, as a rule, were offered very little training about safe ways to handle the mineral. Family members were also subjected to asbestos exposure when workplaces failed to offer ways for employees to wash off asbestos fibers, as employees carried asbestos home with them on their clothes or in their hair.

Asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma cancer often take many years to develop, and symptoms can be mistaken for those of less serious conditions. Therefore, people who were employed at these jobsites at any time in the past, as well as their spouses and children, are advised to speak with their physicians about their history of asbestos contact.



OpenJurist 363 U.S. 685 – United States v. American-Foreign Steamship Corp

Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog



New Asbestos-Detecting Microscope Could Improve Abatement Process

Spring 2018 Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Scholarship Winner Sirena Cordova

How a Breath Test Can Detect Mesothelioma in Earlier Stages