A visual historical review of exposure to asbestos at puget sound naval shipyard (1962-1972)

J Toxicol Environ Health B Crit Rev. 2009 Feb;12(2):124-56. doi: 10.1080/10937400902729176.


The study of occupational exposure to asbestos has been an ongoing activity for at least 75 years, dating back to the papers of Merewether and Price (1930). Since that time, literally tens of thousands of air samples have been collected in an attempt to characterize the concentration of asbestos associated with various activities. Many of the individuals who developed diseases from the 1970s to the current day were often exposed to very high airborne concentrations because of direct or indirect exposure to either raw asbestos fiber or insulation during the approximate 1940-1970 time period. Often, these high exposures were associated with work in shipyards during and after World War II and the Korean War, as well as with decommissioning, which continued into the mid-1970s. This study reviews the historical asbestos concentrations measured in shipyards and presents a visual illustration of typical conditions and work practices. A majority of the photographs presented in this article depict work conditions at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, circa 1940-1965, which is representative of other military shipyards of the time.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollution, Indoor / analysis
  • Asbestos / analysis*
  • Asbestosis / history*
  • Construction Materials / history*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Maximum Allowable Concentration
  • Naval Medicine
  • Occupational Exposure / history*
  • Occupations
  • Ships*
  • Washington


  • Asbestos