Until a few decades ago, when the use of products containing asbestos was restricted because of their link to mesothelioma cancer, the use of asbestos materials was widespread in the U.S. One of the most common places to encounter these asbestos products was in the workplace, including industrial and manufacturing sites.
Although asbestos was no longer used in the construction of new buildings and the manufacturing of machine parts after the 1970s, some older buildings are still contaminated with asbestos insulation or other materials. Workers who are employed in these locations may still be at risk of asbestos exposure. But because it can take decades for someone who was exposed to asbestos to receive a mesothelioma diagnosis, some workers who were exposed to asbestos on the job years ago may only now begin to develop symptoms of cancer or other diseases.
Common Sources of Workplace Asbestos Exposure
One of the most widespread sources of workplace asbestos exposure was power plants. Because of the large amount of heat generated at these sites, asbestos materials were commonly used there for insulation and heat protection. According to one study, 33% of power plant workers had asbestos particles in their body when tested, putting them at risk of developing mesothelioma or other diseases associated with asbestos.
Workers at industrial sites — including steel mills, paper mills, aluminium plants, and metal works — also faced a high risk of asbestos exposure. Like power plants, industrial facilities generate large amounts of heat, and asbestos materials were once widely used in the machine parts at these sites. The activity of the machines used at these locations could cause asbestos particles to become airborne, increasing the danger of contracting an asbestos-related disease for workers at these sites.
Individuals who were employed in the petrochemical industry may also have been exposed to asbestos on the job. Oil refineries contained many parts that contained asbestos insulation. Chemical plants also contained high levels of asbestos from the parts used at these sites. Workers on oil rigs may also have been exposed to asbestos from materials that were used in machine parts or as insulation.
Workers at shipyards — including those used by the U.S. Navy or Merchant Marines — also faced a high risk of asbestos exposure. Materials containing asbestos were widely used in parts that were onboard ships, as well as in shipyard facilities. Approximately one-third of all mesothelioma lawsuits are filed by former shipyard workers who were exposed to asbestos products onboard ships or materials that were found at these sites.
Railroad employees — including both train workers and those who were employed at the rail yards — were also at risk of asbestos exposure because of the widespread contamination found at these sites. Trains contained large amounts of asbestos in the brakes and other parts used on these vehicles. Railyards also contained significant quantities of asbestos materials.
In addition to these common sources of workplace asbestos exposure, individuals who worked at many other jobsites — including Ground Zero after the 9/11 terrorist attacks or the W.R. Grace asbestos mines in Libby, Montana — may also have been exposed to asbestos particles. Because of the high quantities of asbestos that was found at many of these locations, some workers who were exposed on the job may face a significant risk of being diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases.
Illnesses Linked to Workplace Asbestos Exposure
The most well-known illness linked to asbestos exposure is mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that can affect the lining of the heart, lungs, abdomen, or testicles. Asbestos exposure is the only known cause of mesothelioma. This type of cancer is almost always fatal, and most workers who are diagnosed with the disease only develop symptoms decades after they were exposed.
Workers who were exposed to asbestos on the job may also be at risk of developing asbestosis. Asbestosis is a condition which causes scarring of the lungs due to the presence of asbestos fibers in the body. Although many workers are diagnosed with asbestosis without showing symptoms of mesothelioma, because an asbestosis diagnosis indicates the presence of asbestos particles in the body, individuals who are diagnosed with this condition are at a high risk of later being diagnosed with mesothelioma.
Asbestos exposure has also been linked to a number of other conditions. Asbestos particles can cause other cancers to develop in the body, including the lungs, ovaries, and larynx. Asbestos can also cause scar tissue or fluid buildup in the pleura, the lining of the lungs, which is known as benign pleural disease.
Free Legal Consultation for Victims of Asbestos Exposure
If you or a loved one were exposed to asbestos in the workplace and diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer, asbestosis, or other diseases linked to asbestos exposure, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit and seek compensation for your injuries to help you deal with medical bills and other expenses. The first step in taking legal action is to speak with an experienced asbestos attorney who can advise you about your legal rights and help you begin the process of filing a case.
For more information about filing a mesothelioma or asbestos lawsuit and to find out whether you may qualify, contact the law firm of Hissey, Mulderig & Friend to receive a free legal consultation. You can reach us by calling toll-free at 1-866-806-8117, or by filling out our free case evaluation form on the right side of this page. After reviewing your submission, one of our staff members will contact you to obtain more information and schedule your free attorney consultation.