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Author Notes:

Richard A. Lemen, richard@ralemen.org

Philip J. Landrigan, landrigp@bc.edu

Conceptualization, R.A.L. and P.J.L.; methodology, R.A.L. and P.J.L.; software, R.A.L. and P.J.L.; validation, R.A.L. and P.J.L.; formal analysis, R.A.L. and P.J.L.; investigation, R.A.L. and P.J.L.; resources, R.A.L. and P.J.L.; data curation, R.A.L. and P.J.L.; writing—original draft preparation, R.A.L. and P.J.L.; writing—review and editing, R.A.L. and P.J.L.; visualization, R.A.L. and P.J.L.; supervision, R.A.L. and P.J.L.; project administration, R.A.L. and P.J.L.; funding acquisition, P.J.L. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.

R.A.L. has testified on behalf of asbestos-related disease patients. P.J.L. has testified on behalf of asbestos-related disease patients. P.J.L.’s late father-in-law suffered from asbestosis caused by his work in the Quincy, Massachusetts Naval Shipyard.


Research Funding:

Funding for this publication was through Boston College.


  • asbestos
  • cancer
  • lung
  • mesothelioma
  • exposure
  • permissible exposure limit (PEL)
  • pleural
  • seamen
  • seafarers

Sailors and the Risk of Asbestos-Related Cancer


Journal Title:

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health


Volume 18, Number 16


Type of Work:

Article | Final Publisher PDF


Sailors have long been known to experience high rates of injury, disease, and premature death. Many studies have shown asbestos-related diseases among shipyard workers, but few have examined the epidemiology of asbestos-related disease and death among asbestos-exposed sailors serving on ships at sea. Chrysotile and amphibole asbestos were used extensively in ship construction for insulation, joiner bulkhead systems, pipe coverings, boilers, machinery parts, bulkhead panels, and many other uses, and asbestos-containing ships are still in service. Sailors are at high risk of exposure to shipboard asbestos, because unlike shipyard workers and other occupationally exposed groups, sailors both work and live at their worksite, making asbestos standards and permissible exposure limits (PELs). based on an 8-h workday inadequate to protect their health elevated risks of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related cancers have been observed among sailors through epidemiologic studies. We review these studies here.

Copyright information:

© 2021 by the authors.

This is an Open Access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/rdf).
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