Occupational Exposure to Asbestos
According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), everyone is exposed to low levels of asbestos in the air. Typically, limited asbestos exposure is not enough to cause injury or illness. However, the mesothelioma risk is higher and people are more likely to experience asbestos-related disease when they are exposed to high concentrations of asbestos, for longer periods of time, and more often than average. This high level of exposure can result from occupational exposure to asbestos.
The fact that federal standards have improved workplace safety to limit occupational exposure to asbestos has not affected the number of asbestos injury cases to date. Due to the long latency period for asbestos-related illnesses, people continue to be diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases each year. New cases of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases are being discovered today in people who suffered occupational exposure to asbestos decades ago.
Jobs at Risk of Occupational Exposure to Asbestos
Some of the jobs whose workers are at the highest risk for occupational exposure to asbestos include:
- Automotive workers: The major source of occupational exposure to asbestos for automotive workers is brake lining assembly and clutch assembly replacement. Auto workers may also be exposed during spray applications and when handling asbestos-contaminated cloths and supplies.
- Electricians: Electricians may experience occupational exposure to asbestos when working in areas where asbestos was applied, and they may also be exposed to asbestos when installing insulated wire through the infrastructure of a ship or building.
- Janitors: Janitors who work in older buildings may suffer occupational exposure to asbestos when they come in contact with exposed asbestos in the course of their daily duties.
- Maintenance Workers: Building maintenance workers may be exposed to asbestos dust in several ways, from performing routine maintenance and repairs to removing insulation.
- Mill, Plant, and Factory Workers: Asbestos is commonly found in steel and iron mills, where high temperatures require the use of insulation for personal protective gear and heat efficiency.
- Navy Veterans: Asbestos in the Navy is a well-documented problem, due to asbestos on ships and in shipyards. Thousands of sailors and civilian workers suffered occupational exposure to asbestos while cutting, shaping, and manipulating insulation products.
- Pipefitters and Plumbers: Pipefitters and plumbers frequently come into contact with asbestos in pipe insulation, gaskets, and other materials used in their work.
- Plasterers: Asbestos was used in plaster from the 1940s through the 1980s. Plasterers today may risk inhaling the dust created by the removal of old plaster.
- Ship Builders: Workers employed in shipbuilding and those involved in converting, repairing, or overhauling ship operations where asbestos-containing components were used often came in contact with asbestos.
If you’ve suffered occupational exposure to asbestos, speak to your physician who may be able to screen you for early signs of asbestos-related disease. Your mesothelioma prognosis is better with early detection.
You may also want to explore your legal options. If you feel that an asbestos company may be responsible for your occupational exposure to asbestos, contact a mesothelioma attorney to learn about filing a mesothelioma lawsuit.