Fm. ae (8821110) 81-80& iNHS1- 8
NEWPORT NEWS SHIPBU~LDING AND DRY DOCK COMPANY
I'u.. 50. _ _ _ _ __
NEWPORT nWB. VIRGINU.
September 13, 1967
MEMORANDUM POt Mr. C. W. Myers
Subject: Problem of Asbestos Exposure
The lung disease known as asbestosis has been recognized
for several decades as an occ~pational disease arising from the
inhalation of asbestos particles. More recently, medical litera-
ture is burgeoning with reports implicating asbestos fibers deposited
in lung structures as a cancer-causing agent.
In brief, there appears to be a statistical relationship
between the presence of asbestos fibers in lung tissue and an
increased frequency of lung cancer, pleural mesothelioma. gastro-
intestinal cancer and peritoneal mesothelioma.
We have recently become aware of cases of Shipyard employees
which bear these diagnoses; al~(r,. ·"asbestos- bodies If have been demon-
strated in lung tissue~ ~
Recently NASA has been confronted with a claim for wrongful
death due to malignant tumor, said to be arising from the stimulus
of asbestos. This claim was allowed as an occupational disease.
Despite the wide-spread dooumentation of the statistical
validity of the relationship between asbestos and tumor, it is
my feeling that we cannot accept such evidence as whole cloth. All
of these studies have been made with the avowed purpose of demon-
strating a relationship between this agent and the disease entity;
none have been slanted in the opposite direction, i.e., to demon-
strate that there is not. It is thus my feeling that these
researchers carry an observer's bias and are, therefore, not
necessarily valid outside of their own context.
Because there is a long delay (average given in different
articles from 27.4 to 38.5 years) between the onset of exposure
to asbestos and the appearance of tumor. A unique problem exists.
I would propose in preparing a solution to this problem
that two avenues must be utilized:
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(1) Environmental survey and control - the use of asbestos
falls easily into two major categories in the Shipyard.
l"irst, the preparation of and installation of irwula-
ting material in shapes" usually prepared in the Pipe
Coverer's Shop. Second" the removal and replacement
of old insulation with new in ship repair.
Sample studies need to be made to estimate the current
airborne burden of asbestos particles and the environ-
ment where they may represent an inhalant hazard. From
present studies, some conclusion may be drawn as to past
experience in these areas. Control measures should then
be instituted" based on the indicated need, but which
should include specific protection of the respiratory
tract by preventing the particles from becoming air-
borne in the ambient breathing air or that the particles
from the work place be removed by draught ventilation
and \'Jet collection, use of vacuum cutting tools, and
meticulous house cleaning procedures, whether for new
or old work. Actual use of respirators may prove to
be necessary in many instances. This is essentially
a problem for an industrial hygienist.
(2) An appraisal of whatever defensive position we may assume
will also involve the historical study of individuals who
have been exposed to asbestos in the course of their
employment. Rather than explore the fringes of this
relationship, it is proposed that death certificates
of individuals employed in Pipe Coverer's Shop be
reviewed. A ready source of review would arise from
the records kept at the Aetna Insurance Office to which
access would be required. This would produce certificates
only for those individuals who retired, became disabled,
or died while still in the employment of the Company.
If this sample is not statistically significan~ it is
suggested that the review be extended further backwards
in time, utilizing other sources of death certificates,
including the Bureau of Vital Statistics at the p1ace of
death. This may be facilitated by utilization of social
security records and a valid search could be made without
undue difficulty back to 1935. Prior to that, more
difficulty would be encountered and this should not be
attempted unless sufficient information has not been
After review of these records, a statistical correlation of
our own records can be made and an evalua'tion of our own situation can
thus be presented.
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The accumulation of cases in the past year and one-half
has been sufficiently large for me to represent this to you as a
problem for emergent attention.
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Fm. 26·1 (3321126) 33.1532
NEWPORT NEWS SHIPBUILDING AND DRY DOCK COMPANY
FU.E NO. _ _ _ __
NEWPORT NEWS. VffiGINIA
February 14, 1969
MEMORANDUM For Mr. C. W. Myers
There are now known to me aeveral cases of asbest08is
arising 1n shipyard employeea. Theae have been associated with
tuberculos1s 1n 80me in8tances~ and 1n several caaes w1th
mesothe110ma~ a malignant tumor. In all luch instances
albeltoaia, a diaeale ot recognized ocoupat1onal or1g1n, haa
been diacovered in also01ation with the other dil.alel ment10ned
and at preaent no caBe ot asbe.to.1a ex1.t1ns alone and as a
proven d1agnosia is known to me. Nev.rthele •• , there are Itrong
1ndications po1nt1ng to the dev~pment ot th1. d1 ••aa. in
Newport Newl .h1pyard worker. and I ant1cipate that IIOre oa.ea
w11l cont1nue to 00.. to light a. the1r .,.pta.. beoo.. .evere
enough to reault 1n th.ir diaoa.tort.
S1derol11, another oocupational d1Ie ••e, i. al.o prevalent
among shipyard employe... Although thil d1 ••••• whioh 1. prt.&rilJ
due to ablorption ot iron oxide i. relat1ve17 ·benisn. the pre •• noe
or abaence ot l,mpta.a i. related to the d.cree ot involY..ent
ot the lung. plUS the pre.eno. or ab.ence ot other ~ditr1ng
factorl, 1noluding laok., ohronio bronch1t11, ..phJ.... , or heart
d1sea •• a.
well al the oonoa.itant pre •• noe ot other dUlt.,
including 1111'0&' and expoaUN to 1rritat1ng IIIIOkW, 't"UMa and
galel wh10h 1nclude at lea.t aorol.in, hydrocarbons, partioulate
carbon, ozone, oxide. ot n1trogen, and .. tal ru.e •.
No one department oont1rma allot the oa••a ot the.e
oooupational d1Iorder.. They appear in expo.ed ind1vidual.
regardle •• ot their departaental al.ignmentl.
The Medioal Department 1. approaohing the ab1lity to deal w1th
an expanded program of period1c examinations. Atter dilcuss1on,
1t will be my recommendation that exposed groups ot ind1viduals
be subjected to periodio exam1nation, inolud1ng at the very lease
an annual or lem1-annual chest tilm. Some attent1onw1ll need to
be g1ven to the env1ronment it.elt plus the pos.ibility of
personal protection aga1nst injurious agents.
C. W. stallard, Jr., M.D.