Before the 1980s, asbestos was widely used in everything from construction materials to brake pads due to its strength, heat-resistant qualities, and cheap cost. The general public was not aware of the deadly effects of working with asbestos, so tens of millions of workers across many industries were exposed to the asbestos mineral between the 1940s and 1980s. Inhaling asbestos particles can lead to mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other non-cancerous diseases. Workers who have come into contact with asbestos should be aware of the harmful consequences and seek medical treatment if they are showing symptoms of Mesothelioma or other asbestos-related illness. Workers may also be able to take legal action against asbestos manufacturers to receive compensation.
High Risk Occupations
Workers with the highest risk of exposure to asbestos were those who directly handled asbestos on a regular basis. This may include the products they used, the gear they wore, or equipment they operated.
1. Construction Workers
Because asbestos was used in so many building materials, construction workers are often exposed to it on a daily basis. Workers who deal with the repair, removal, or demolishing of asbestos materials are at a particularly high risk of exposure because those actions often release asbestos fibers into the air, where workers may then inhale them. Paint, drywall, insulation, and pipes are just a few of the materials that have historically contained high levels of asbestos.
Firefighters are also at a high risk of asbestos exposure because homes and buildings prior to the 1980s were built with so many products containing asbestos. When on fire, these buildings can release the asbestos particles into the air, which could then be inhaled by firefighters working to put the fire out. Firefighting equipment also previously included asbestos because of its heat resistance. Firefighters are still at risk today if the buildings on fire are older and still contain asbestos.
3. Industrial Workers
Any type of industrial work, including plumbers, mechanics, and machine operators,all have high exposure rates. Oftentimes, pipes used to be wrapped in asbestos for insulation. Plumbers who were tasked with removing or installing these types of pipes may have been exposed. Mechanics who worked on brake pads made with asbestos also had a high rate of exposure. Many of these jobs still face exposure today, as older machines, vehicles, and houses may still contain asbestos.
The Dangers of Asbestos
Asbestos is a direct cause of several cancers and non-cancerous diseases, all of which are very aggressive and deadly. This includes Mesothelioma, lung cancer, ovarian cancer, and asbestosis. Exposure to asbestos occurs when asbestos particles are inhaled into the lungs. These particles can become stuck in the respiratory or digestive tracts, causing scarring and inflammation. No level of exposure is safe, but repeated and long-term exposure to asbestos have a higher chance of cancer or other complications later in life.
Asbestos manufacturers were aware of the dangers of asbestos during the 1900s but neglected to warn the public in order to stay in business. As a result, countless Americans have suffered from asbestos-related illnesses over the years. If you have, or still are, exposed to asbestos as a part of your employment, you may be able to take legal action against these companies to receive compensation for your injuries.