Asbestos exposure is a leading cause of safety concerns in various occupations because this group of minerals is very common. The minerals are colorless and odorless, and that increases the risk of exposure. A majority of asbestos poisoning cases were in the construction industry because the substance was integrated into many materials, including paints, flooring, and fire-retardant coatings. Over the years, the U.S has instituted certain regulations regarding its use, but asbestos is not banned entirely. For this reason, some jobs still come with the risk of getting exposed to asbestos. Individuals in these occupations must also comprehend the consequences of asbestos exposure.
Some building materials still contain asbestos, meaning firefighters can come into contact with it when running into burning buildings. Fire causes asbestos to break down, releasing the fibers into the air. Firefighters can suffer asbestos poisoning from the paint on walls/ceilings, insulation, and drywall, among others. When asbestos dust enters the lungs, it can lead to various diseases, including pleural mesothelioma, cancer, and asbestosis. Besides the dust from old buildings, firefighters could also suffer asbestos exposure from their gear. The fire-retardant materials used for their protective helmets, boots, and clothing may contain traces of asbestos.
- Construction Workers
Individuals who work in the building industry have very high chances of getting exposed to asbestos. Regulation of asbestos only started in 1971, meaning buildings that were constructed prior to that year likely have some asbestos content. When construction workers have to undertake any tasks in these buildings, such as demolitions or renovations, they expose themselves. Construction workers can get asbestos poisoning from the dust stirred up when working and the traces that stick to their work clothes.
Another area where asbestos was common was the construction of electrical insulation materials. Electricians handle these products constantly. Exposure can also happen when an electrician is working in tight spaces in a building where most of the asbestos is concentrated (plumbing pipes, drywall, and paint). Luckily, electrical products no longer contain asbestos, which limits the risk of contact to older buildings and fixtures.
- Shipyard Workers
The durability and heat-resistant nature of asbestos made it a popular component in the shipbuilding industry. It was found in the electrical installations, plumbing, and other construction aspects. The point was to improve the safety of ships such as preventing fires at sea, which can be dangerous. Workers in this industry now have to deal with the constant exposure to asbestos. Whether a worker is doing some welding, cleaning a vessel, or doing electrical work, there is a risk of asbestos poisoning.
Plumbers have to work with many products that were made with asbestos. Gaskets, sewer pipes, and flues are some of the items constructed with the mineral. When plumbers have to fit in these systems or repair the when they fail, they risk asbestos exposure. The highest threat is in old houses where most of the construction is asbestos. Even when the piping and other plumbing parts are not made with asbestos, a plumber may have to fit them in areas of the house that are laden with asbestos dust from the original construction.
Health Risks Associated with Asbestos
According to the Pleural Mesothelioma Center, a type of cancer that occurs in the lining of the lungs called pleural mesothelioma is the most dangerous threat of asbestos exposure. When asbestos fibers become airborne, they can get to the lungs and lodge in the soft tissue when people breathe around the contaminated region. These fibers can cause cancer, among other health complications, although it may take a long while to manifest. Asbestos abatement is required by law when certain activities such as demolitions and remodeling disturb asbestos material.
If you think you have been exposed to asbestos due to an employer’s or someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact a personal injury lawyer today such as the Asbestos Attorney Birmingham AL locals trust.
Thanks to authors at Environmental Litigation Group, P.C. for their insight into Asbestos and Wrongful Death.