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HomeAsbestos ExposureAsbestos CompaniesSyd Carpenter Marine Contractor, Inc.

As the name implies, shipyards are facilities that specialize in the design, construction and maintenance of ships, both for the commercial and military sectors. The industry truly ignited during the two World Wars, when demand for vessels by the U.S. Navy made shipbuilding one of the largest industries in the United States, hitting a peak with 4.5 million shipyard workers during World War II.

Given the enormous scope of shipbuilding, many contractors came into business in order to supply shipyards with the necessary supplies. One of these contractors was Syd Carpenter Marine Contractor, a California-based company that supplied insulation and other materials to shipyards in California and elsewhere. Syd Carpenter Marine outfitted such well-known shipyards as Todd Shipyard with the products it needed to take on massive construction and repair jobs for the U.S. Navy and private companies.


Products Manufactured by Syd Carpenter Marine Contractor that Contained Asbestos

Insulation was used aboard ships as a heat-resistant covering on incinerators, boilers, steam pipes and hot water pipes. For years, this pipe-covering material was made from fibers of asbestos, a mineral that grows in large, naturally occurring deposits. The benefit of asbestos was that it was heat-resistant, a natural fire-proofer, durable and inexpensive; the drawback, we eventually learned, was that it is extremely toxic.

Asbestos is a known carcinogen; exposure to the mineral’s particles in the air can cause difficulty breathing and lead to fatal pulmonary diseases like asbestosis, a chronic inflammation of the lungs, and mesothelioma cancer, a rare and inoperable form of lung cancer. Unfortunately, the effects of asbestos were not fully realized until the 1970s, when the federal government took steps to ban most uses of the mineral. By then, however, thousands of workers had already been exposed for decades, and many were falling ill.

Insulation was one of the more hazardous asbestos products a person could work with. That’s because regular installation and maintenance of the product – such as trimming and sanding the material to achieve the proper fit – released large amounts of asbestos dust into the air. And when this work was done in a confined space in the inner workings of a ship, it was even more difficult to avoid the threat of breathing it in.

Products manufactured by Syd Carpenter Marine Contractor that contained asbestos include, but are not limited to insulation.

Occupations at Risk for Asbestos Exposure

People who worked at shipyards during or before the 1970s are the most likely to have been exposed to asbestos in Syd Carpenter products. These workers may have worked directly with asbestos, such as laggers and sprayers, or they may have just worked in the vicinity, such as shipwrights, boilermakers, fitters or electricians. Longshoremen – laborers who were hired to load and unload a ship’s contents – may also have been put at risk.

It was not uncommon for people who worked with asbestos to go home at the end of the day covered in the dusty white substance. Unfortunately, bringing asbestos fibers home could also put the worker’s family at risk of secondhand exposure. According to one study, more than 11 percent of the wives of longtime shipyard workers showed signs of asbestos-related lung disease.

In fact, even living near a shipyard could put a person at risk if there was enough asbestos dust in the air. Studies have shown the occurrence of mesothelioma in individuals who lived within a quarter-mile of facilities that used asbestos.

Written By

Tara Strand Senior Content Writer

Tara Strand specializes in researching and writing about asbestos, raising awareness and advocating for a ban.


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Reviewed By

Jennifer Lucarelli Legal Advisor and Contributor

Jennifer Lucarelli is a partner at the law firm of Early, Lucarelli, Sweeney & Meisenkothen, specializing in asbestos litigation.


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