Industries Impacted By Mesothelioma – Over the course of the 20th century, the United States experienced an explosive period of growth and innovation powered by the hard work of everyday Americans. Unfortunately, many of the industries that provided employment opportunities for so many people also were responsible for exposing these workers to the deadly carcinogen asbestos.
Prior to the 1990s, asbestos was used in thousands of products across a variety of industries. Although companies knew asbestos posed serious health threats, they failed to warn workers of the dangers. Now, decades later, thousands of people every year are being diagnosed with asbestos diseases such as mesothelioma.
Yet still today, asbestos is not banned in the United States.
Industries with High Rates of Asbestos Disease
Aerospace: Workers who helped design and manufacture aircraft, rockets, missiles, spacecraft and other aerospace equipment were often exposed to asbestos parts and materials. They may have inhaled the deadly fibers when installing, repairing, maintaining or replacing asbestos-containing brakes, engines, hoses, insulation, pumps, valves, boilers and other equipment.
Automotive: Asbestos was heavily used in the automotive industry, exposing workers at manufacturing plants as well as mechanic shops. Automobile brake shoes, brake linings, brake pads, clutches, gaskets, cylinder heads, transmission components and certain plastic parts contained asbestos. In addition, automotive plants used boilers, turbines, pumps, tanks, valves, gaskets and other equipment that contained asbestos.
Chemical: Workers in the chemical industry are responsible for producing a wide range of products including plastics, ceramics, pharmaceuticals, dyes, fertilizers and flavorings. Large factories manufactured chemicals in bulk using a variety of asbestos-containing equipment. Workers may have been exposed while working with pumps, valves, turbines, boilers, furnaces, storage tanks, gaskets, packing, lab and filtering equipment, molding compounds and motorized machines that used asbestos brake pads.
Construction: Asbestos was a common component in a wide range of construction materials. The fibrous mineral was used in ceiling and floor tiles, roofing, shingles, wallboard, joint compound, caulking, paint and plaster, and much more. It is estimated that millions of construction workers have been exposed to asbestos, and the danger continues today as workers repair, renovate or demolish older structures.
Electronics: Factories where workers manufactured electronics equipment such as computer components, circuit boards, radios, televisions, appliances, wiring and cable were a common site of asbestos exposure. These factories used asbestos equipment and materials such as pumps, boilers, turbines, pipes, valves, insulation, gaskets and packing. In addition, the buildings that housed the factories were constructed with asbestos materials such as sheet rock, floor and ceiling tiles, insulation and fireproofing spray.
Food Processing: Large food processing plants produce and package much of the food that Americans eat. Yet prior the 1990s, these plants used a variety of asbestos equipment and components in their operations. Workers may have been exposed to the dangerous fibers while installing, maintaining, repairing or removing insulation, boilers, pipes, pumps, valves, gaskets, packing, ovens and asbestos cement.
Glass: Glass products are created in high-temperature environments with equipment that commonly contained asbestos due to its ability to withstand intense heat. Workers may have worn protective gear such as gloves and aprons that were lined with asbestos. In addition, equipment and components such as lehrs and other furnaces, boilers, tanks, turbines, pipes, pumps, valves, gaskets, packing, insulation, tape, sheeting and tongs contained asbestos.
Manufacturing: Prior to the U.S. government taking steps to limit the use of asbestos, thousands of products were manufactured with the mineral fibers. All types of manufacturing operations used asbestos in both their equipment and their products. Manufacturers that used asbestos include glass companies, metal factories, cement manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, electronics makers, auto companies, paper mills, food manufacturers, aerospace companies, chemical companies and shipbuilders.
Metal Smelting: Metal industry workers in smelting plants worked with steel, iron, copper, aluminum and various other materials in high-temperature environments. At these plants, workers were exposed to the carcinogen through coke ovens, hot tops, furnaces and crucibles that were lined with asbestos insulation, refractory, cement and brick. Boiler rooms at these plants were also a common site of exposure, and mechanical devices in the plants typically contained asbestos in brake components. In addition, workers may have been exposed to asbestos on pumps, valves, gaskets and packing.
Paper Mills: Paper and pulp mills were a common site for occupational asbestos exposure. These facilities frequently used asbestos-containing equipment such as paper machines, pumps, valves, boilers, turbines, digesters and evaporators. Workers also operated industrial saws and grinding machines that used asbestos brake parts. To make matters worse, paper mills had poor ventilation, which allowed asbestos dust to contaminate and become trapped in the workspace, putting everyone in the area at risk.
Pharmaceutical Manufacturing: Pharmaceutical companies manufactured their products in large plants that relied on asbestos materials and equipment as part of their standard operation. Workers may have been exposed to the toxic material while maintaining or repairing boilers, pumps, valves, gaskets, packing, insulation, lab equipment or ovens at pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities.
Power Plants: Workers were responsible for maintaining many types of asbestos equipment at power generation and distribution plants. Pipefitters, electricians, boiler operators and tenders, plumbers, welders, maintenance mechanics and laborers all risked exposure to the dangerous fibers when installing, maintaining, fixing or removing asbestos-containing equipment. Asbestos could be found in boilers, turbines, pumps, tanks, valves, gaskets, packing, heaters and coolers, electrical boxes, blowers and fans, compressors, pipes, conveyors and evaporators. Some power plants may still contain equipment with asbestos components.
Shipyards: Asbestos was a common material used in both commercial and military shipbuilding operations prior to the 1990s. Veterans and civilians who worked on ships or in shipyards may have been exposed to the carcinogen while building, maintaining, repairing or unloading vessels.
Textile Mills: Workers at textile mills often worked with raw asbestos fibers that were spun into yarn and then used to produce fire-resistant fabrics and materials. Asbestos products made by textile workers included fireproof protective clothing, oven mitts and pot holders, fire curtains and welding blankets. In addition, textile mill workers may have been exposed to asbestos through equipment such as boilers, drying machines and weaving machines.
Family Members of Workers Also at Risk
Throughout these factories and jobsites, workers were exposed to clouds of asbestos dust that left fibers clinging to their uniforms, clothing, hair and skin. These fibers would travel home with the workers, exposing family members to the toxic material as well.
There is no safe level of asbestos exposure. Family members of workers who experienced secondhand exposure have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, lung cancer and other asbestos diseases.
Financial Help for Those Diagnosed with Mesothelioma
Financial compensation may be available for individuals and families who are coping with a mesothelioma diagnosis. An experienced mesothelioma lawyer can help you file a claim through an asbestos bankruptcy trust or pursue a lawsuit against the company(s) responsible for your exposure. In addition, mesothelioma patients may be able to obtain veterans’ benefits, Social Security Disability benefits or workers’ compensation payments, depending on their circumstances.
Schedule a free consultation with the nationally recognized legal team at Mesothelioma Help to discuss your options for compensation today. We can also connect you with medical specialists, mesothelioma treatment centers and support groups to help you during this difficult journey.