When people think of asbestos, they may not be too concerned since many believe it was banned in the late 1970’s due to the dangers of its fibers being released into the air and causing people to suffer life-threatening illnesses. However, asbestos was not in fact banned completely, and is still in older products like drywall and insulation manufactured before the limitations were put in place. As a result, many workers—some younger ones—are being exposed to dangerous levels of asbestos without realizing the dangers they face.
Common Products That Contain Asbestos
Asbestos is a group of minerals found in our environment that can be separated into thin, durable threads that are versatile because they are heat, fire, and chemical resistant and do not conduct electricity. Some popular products that have contained asbestos in the past include:
- Roof shingles and roofing products
- Floor tiles and other flooring
- Drywall products, including joint compound and gypsum board
- Vermiculite products
- Duct tape
- Construction felts
- Insulating cements
Unfortunately, some of these older products are still around in older homes and buildings. Even worse, not all asbestos was banned, and it is still found in a wide range of products, endangering unsuspecting workers. These products and materials include:
- Cement flat sheet and corrugated sheet
- Roofing felt
- Vinyl floor tiles
- Cement shingles
- Cement pipe
- Automatic transmission parts
- Certain brake linings and disc brake pads
- Non-roof and roof coating materials
Workers Most At Risk of Asbestos Exposure
There are some high-risk occupations where workers are required to handle or are exposed to asbestos on a regular basis. The top five at-risk professions include:
- Construction worker. Construction workers can be exposed to asbestos through the thousands of construction materials that were once used and are still in older buildings and homes as well as in the products—like roofing and flooring—that still contain asbestos. They are at an even greater risk when they are involved in the demolition of a commercial building or home or home remodeling.
- Firefighter. In a fire, products made with asbestos can quickly become damaged, allowing the asbestos fibers to become airborne and endanger firefighters. In addition, firefighters’ clothes, boots, and helmets were made using asbestos.
- Industrial worker. These include mechanics, foremen, trade laborers, factory workers, chemical workers, and machinery operators. One of the biggest risks of asbestos exposure is industrial insulators, although asbestos paper, textiles, gaskets, insulation, and fireproofing also pose dangers.
- Power plant worker. Cutting old asbestos pipes is the biggest danger power plant workers face of asbestos exposure. In addition, fireproofing spray and pipe insulation were also common sources of this toxic substance.
- Shipyard worker. Shipyards are full of asbestos dangers, with boiler workers and those working in construction, demolition, and vessel repairs being at highest risk of exposure.
Employees in a wide range of other industries also are at medium to high risk of developing asbestos-related diseases. These include the following:
- Textile mill workers
- Railroad workers
- Metal workers
- Oil refinery workers
Signs You Have Developed an Asbestos-Related Disease
Unfortunately, even a brief exposure to asbestos can result in a worker experiencing a life-altering disease. Some family members of workers who are exposed to asbestos have also been found to face an increased risk of developing an asbestos-related illness. Symptoms often take months or longer to develop. Workers in contact with asbestos should consult with a doctor if they experience any of the following:
- Shortness of breath or wheezing
- A persistent cough that does not improve and gets worse over time
- Coughing up blood in the sputum
- Pain or tightness in the chest
- Problems swallowing
- Swelling in the throat and face areas
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of weight
- Unusual fatigue
Diseases You Could Develop From Asbestos Exposure
Asbestos exposure can lead to life-threatening cancers and lung diseases that can dramatically change a worker’s and his family’s quality of life. For many, these diseases will be fatal. Some of these devastating illnesses include:
- Mesothelioma, a form of asbestos cancer that attacks the membranes surrounding the lungs
- Lung cancer, which can affect the tissues in the lungs
- Asbestosis, a chronic lung condition that can cause extensive scarring of lung tissue and cause severe difficulties breathing
If you developed an asbestos-related disease from exposure at work, you need an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to help you obtain the compensation you’ll need for your expensive medical treatments and lost wages. Check out my Case Results and then start an online chat today to schedule a free consultation.