Written By:
Last Modified January 10, 2022
This page features 5 Cited Research Articles
Fact Checked
Our fact-checking process begins with a thorough review of all sources to ensure they are high quality. Then we cross-check the facts with original medical or scientific reports published by those sources, or we validate the facts with reputable news organizations, medical and scientific experts and other health experts. Each page includes all sources for full transparency.

Asbestos.com is the nation’s most trusted mesothelioma resource

The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com has provided patients and their loved ones the most updated and reliable information on mesothelioma and asbestos exposure since 2006.

Our team of Patient Advocates includes a medical doctor, a registered nurse, health services administrators, veterans, VA-accredited Claims Agents, an oncology patient navigator and hospice care expert. Their combined expertise means we help any mesothelioma patient or loved one through every step of their cancer journey.

More than 30 contributors, including mesothelioma doctors, survivors, health care professionals and other experts, have peer-reviewed our website and written unique research-driven articles to ensure you get the highest-quality medical and health information.

About The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com

  • Assisting mesothelioma patients and their loved ones since 2006.
  • Helps more than 50% of mesothelioma patients diagnosed annually in the U.S.
  • A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
  • 5-star reviewed mesothelioma and support organization.
Learn More About Us


"My family has only the highest compliment for the assistance and support that we received from The Mesothelioma Center. This is a staff of compassionate and knowledgeable individuals who respect what your family is experiencing and who go the extra mile to make an unfortunate diagnosis less stressful. Information and assistance were provided by The Mesothelioma Center at no cost to our family."
Mesothelioma patient’s daughter
  • Google Review Rating
  • BBB Review Rating
Read Our Testimonials

About Norfolk Naval Shipyard

From 1940 until 1945, the yard repaired, altered and converted 6,850 naval vessels. It also built 101 new ships and landing craft for the Naval Fleet and manufactured products used by both naval installations and the forces aboard Navy ships.

The level of support that Norfolk provided for the war effort resulted in the creation of landfills containing pollutants like asbestos-containing materials used in the conversion and overhaul process. The Paradise Creek Landfill, in use from 1945 to 1983, was a disposal area for waste produced from ship salvage operations, abrasive blast grit material, boiler fly, bottom ash, residential trash, and industrial wastewater treatment plant sludge. Another disposal area containing asbestos contaminants is the 1927 landfill located in the southern portion of the main shipyard area, which was in use from 1927 until 1941. Sandblast grit, and fly ash were also dumped in the landfill.

As the oldest existing shipyard in the country, Norfolk Naval Shipyard has a long history of using asbestos materials. The close quarters involved in constructing, overhauling and repairing vessels exposed workers to asbestos, a natural mineral known to cause lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma.

A review of medical literature on asbestos-related cancer risk among sailors was published in the International Journal of Environmental Health Research in 2021. It described a 2020 study of seafarers from five Nordic countries who have more than double the risk of developing mesothelioma compared to the general public.

Norfolk Naval Shipyard is on the EPA’s National Priorities List

The level of contamination resulting from asbestos use and the activities performed at the yard made it necessary for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to add it to the National Priorities List. In addition to the conversion and overhaul of ships, the yard also houses industrial shops involved in metal forming, repair and installation of mechanical and electrical equipment, metal fabrication, metal plating, and painting operations.

This type of heavy industry generates vast amounts of waste products that include: asbestos, scrap metal, hydraulic oils, cutting oils and oils contaminated with PCBs, used cleaners, solvents, paint, thinners, residues from sandblasting, battery electrolytes, plating wastes and solutions from cleaning boilers. Former practices for disposing of wastes created by waterfront maintenance of naval vessels included dumping them overboard or onto the ground. Additionally, prior to the use of the industrial waste treatment plant beginning in 1979, shop wastes were sent to storm drains and discharged untreated to the Elizabeth River. Callous safety precautions and the use of toxic materials such as asbestos is what led Norfolk workers to exhibit higher incidence rates of mesothelioma and other diseases.

A preview of the mesothelioma guide provided by The Mesothelioma Center
Get a Free Mesothelioma Guide
Receive a 200-page mesothelioma guide overnight. Learn about your diagnosis, top doctors and how to pay for treatment.

Mesothelioma Rates are Higher at Norfolk

In a 1991 report prepared by Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health evaluating low-level radiation exposure among shipyard workers who overhaul nuclear propulsion plants in six facilities including Norfolk, the researchers studied the mortality from mesothelioma among this population.

They found that although the number of deaths from cases with confirmed pleural or peritoneal mesothelioma was small because it is a rare form of cancer, the incidence rate was actually higher than in the general population of white males. The researchers also noted that the incidence rate of mesothelioma deaths was higher in radiation exposed workers than in non-exposed workers. This led to the conclusion that nuclear workers held more jobs with the potential for asbestos exposure.

U.S. World War 2 veteran saluting with an American flag in background
Access Free VA Claims Assistance
Get the Compensation You Deserve
Doctor assisting a patient
Connect with Top Mesothelioma Doctors

Tell us what you think
Did this article help you?
How did this article help you?
What about this article isn’t helpful for you?
Did this article help you?

Thank you for your feedback. Would you like to speak with a Patient Advocate?