Where Were Welders Exposed to Asbestos?
Because welders work in so many different types of environments, tracking down where and how they may have been exposed to asbestos varies with each person’s work history. That said reports of asbestos-related diseases are more common in welders who worked in the following fields:
How Were Welders Exposed to Asbestos?
Because asbestos is an incredibly resilient, strong, and heat-resistant mineral, dozens of companies chose to use it as an ingredient in the manufacturing of thousands of products produced before 1980. The problem is that when asbestos-containing products are damaged, or wear down due to age, they can release tiny, dangerous fibers into the air. These fibers can be inhaled or carried home on a worker’s skin or clothing in the form of dust. Wherever exposure takes place, asbestos fibers can get stuck inside a person’s body and eventually lead to the development of mesothelioma.
Before safety rules became law, thousands of welders were potentially exposed to asbestos just by doing their jobs. How? Not only did welders often work in environments where they might be surrounded by asbestos-containing building materials like insulation and concrete, but the material used in the protective gear they wore on their bodies to shield themselves from intense heat often contained asbestos as well. Even their tools may have contained asbestos. For example, some welding rods were made with asbestos-containing materials and then coated with asbestos as a final layer of heat protection.
Mesothelioma Can Take Decades to Develop
It takes only 1 inhaled asbestos fiber to cause mesothelioma, and with so many potential sources of repeated workplace exposure, it’s understandable why welders are such a high-risk group.
Mesothelioma often takes a long time to develop—as long as 20-50 years. That means welders who were exposed decades ago may just now be receiving a diagnosis. Today, there is still potential for on-the-job asbestos exposure, but the threat is much lower due to public awareness and much-needed safety regulations.