Veterans Video: Asbestos Lagging Was Normal on U.S. Navy Ships

Veterans & Military

Here’s installment No. 3 of our veterans video series.

Today’s topic: Ever-sexy (but dangerous) asbestos lagging. Lagging, simply, is an insulating wrap that gets put around pipes, boilers, water heaters and other larger parts that need insulation.

For decades, starting before World War II, contractors built ships for the U.S. Navy with lagging manufactured with asbestos. When this lagging broke down over time or was ripped up during a repair job, asbestos fibers were released and breathed in by anyone around who didn’t wear a proper breathing mask.

As anyone who served on a ship: Lagging was everywhere. And asbestos lagging = trouble.

Asbestos exposure is the cause of the mesothelioma, which is diagnosed in about 2,000 to 3,000 people in the United States each year.

Here’s our video. Look for another one tomorrow.

Take a look at the full series of videos on our YouTube channel.


Some of the companies were actually mining asbestos and they were getting it out of the ground and then producing raw asbestos that would then get sent to other companies that would produce parts. The most prominent in the military is probably pipe lagging.

Every pipe in the ship that either has hot or cold fluid going through it needs to be insulated. All the asbestos lagging that wrapped all the pipes in the ship.

Now normally, the VA’s take on this would be well that wrapped and almost like a papier-mâché type of material that you could think of and painted. So that’s a non-friable type of asbestos. Friable would be any asbestos product that you could cause these fibers to go airborne by crushing it with a human hand. A ceiling tile would be a perfect example of that.

Just because there was asbestos doesn’t mean the VA is going to accept that you were exposed. They’re going to want you to tell them where you were exposed to asbestos.

Now we all know that all you had to do is be in the environment [to be exposed]. I mean, that asbestos lagging gets stepped on. I know veterans that use to be in the top rack and lift themselves literally out of the rack by an asbestos wrapped pipe well it doesn’t take too long to wear out that outer coating, and now these guys are dusting their clothes off before they go to bed not realizing that this stuff is dangerous and potentially going to kill them.

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