Occupation Asbestos Exposure
Working around asbestos puts people at risk for several types of cancer and serious pulmonary diseases. While asbestos is widely used, some occupations have higher risks of exposure to asbestos in the workplace.
Did your doctor diagnose you with mesothelioma likely due to exposure to asbestos? At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys are legal advocates for individuals who developed mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer, or other diseases due to exposure to asbestos.
Call our asbestos injury attorneys at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today to schedule a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
Asbestos-related diseases are the most common cause of death from work-related illnesses. In 2016, mesothelioma claimed more than 2,500 lives in the United States alone.
The number of people who die from asbestos exposure continues to rise as workers exposed decades ago continue to develop these cancers and other serious lung conditions.
We have a list of occupations with high levels of asbestos exposure so you can find out if your job is putting your health at risk for developing an asbestos disease or cancer.
This list will help you determine whether you need to take extra precautions on the job site or if it's time for a new career path altogether.
What Are Asbestos Fibers and Dust?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), asbestos is a natural mineral that has been mined for centuries. The first documented use of asbestos was more than 4,500 years ago in Greece. Asbestos flakes were used as wicks for candles and woven into cloth to make fireproof clothing.
Asbestos is heat resistant and can also be found in rocks like talc. When asbestos is mined, it's separated into fibers that can be woven into products.
Asbestos is resistant to heat and chemicals, inexpensive to produce, easily dyed, and highly flexible. These characteristics make asbestos useful as insulation material and a strengthening agent for constructing pipelines and machinery.
Some of the more common asbestos-containing materials include:
- Cement corrugated sheets
- Roofing materials
- Vinyl floor tiles
- Brake pads
- Wrapping paper
- Boiler and furnace insulation
Asbestos materials were widely used in construction projects, especially from the late 1800s through the 1970s. For a time, asbestos fibers and dust were blended into paint products, put into wallboard joint compound, added to cement pipes for plumbing systems, and used as an additive in fireproof clothing.
Asbestos use was common in industrial countries, especially the United States. The last asbestos mine in the U.S. closed in 2002. However, a portion of asbestos use still occurs through imports from Brazil and other countries where it's mined extensively.
Those at risk of asbestos exposure can develop serious asbestos-related diseases, including mesothelioma and lung cancer, from ingesting or inhaling asbestos fibers or dust. In addition, the devastating associated health risks tend to lead to developing asbestos-related diseases in high-risk jobs.
Occupational Asbestos Exposure
In addition to construction projects, asbestos-laden materials were also used in manufacturing facilities for the same reasons they were used in construction projects.
Some of the most highly exposed jobs involving asbestos were widespread. Those occupations are listed below, along with which asbestos-related cancers are associated with these jobs.
Mesothelioma and Other Asbestos-Related Diseases
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), asbestos fibers can damage lung tissue and cause harmful health effects. Asbestos exposures most often occur by inhaling air containing asbestos fibers or swallowing dust produced when asbestos materials are disturbed.
When the lungs contact these microscopic fibers, they embed themselves in lung tissue and cause scarring (fibrosis). Over time, this scarring may become dense enough to interfere with breathing.
If the fibers remain embedded in lung tissue, they can lead to mesothelioma and other asbestos-related cancers that affect different areas of the body.
Mesothelioma is a rare cancer affecting the protective membranes around several vital organs in the body.
The four main types of mesothelioma are pleural, peritoneal, pericardial, and testicular.
- Malignant pleural mesothelioma: The most common form of mesothelioma, this disease is usually attributable to asbestos exposure. Symptoms include a chronic cough and shortness of breath due to fluid build-up in the lungs or chest cavity.
- Peritoneal mesothelioma: This rare form of cancer is usually brought on by exposure to asbestos and produces a bloated feeling in the stomach and abdomen.
- Pericardial mesothelioma: The consequential aftermath of exposure gives patients discomforting feelings of pressure and pain over the heart
- Testicular mesothelioma: Asbestos exposure is believed to be responsible for this form of mesothelioma, which affects the reproductive system
Asbestos exposure is also linked to an increased risk of lung cancer, laryngeal cancer, and pharyngeal cancer in men and women.
Other asbestos-related diseases include asbestosis, which causes shortness of breath and a chronic cough. Asbestos exposure can also cause gastrointestinal perforation, which leads to death in half of the cases reported.
Asbestos exposure is associated with all three major forms of lung cancer. In addition, smoking combined with asbestos exposure increases a person's risk of developing lung cancers even more than either factor alone.
Lung Cancer in Non-Smokers
People who have never smoked but are exposed to tremolite asbestos fibers may also develop lung cancers. Asbestos exposure is thought to be responsible for about 3,000 new cases of lung cancers each year among people who have never smoked.
Other Types of Cancer
Asbestos exposure has been associated with other types of cancer, including:
Asbestos is responsible for about 1,000 new cases of kidney cancer each year. This type of cancer develops in the kidneys lining and causes tumors to form outside the organ.
Less than 10% of all ovarian cancers are thought to be related to asbestos exposure.
The CDC reports that asbestos exposure is considered a cause of about 400 new cases of rectal cancer each year. This type of cancer occurs in the lining (mucosa) of the rectum, upper anus, or lower colon.
Asbestos exposure has been associated with about 400 new cases of breast cancer each year. This type of cancer is most common in women and occurs when cells lining the breast gland grow out of control.
Cancers That Develop After Asbestos Exposure
Most cancers caused by asbestos exposure usually develop within 15 to 35 years after exposure to these fibers. However, since asbestos exposure may increase cancer risk even 20 to 30 years after the first exposure, people who worked with or around asbestos must remain aware of any changes in their health.
After exposure to these fibers, symptoms usually don't appear until later in life. Whereas developing mesothelioma generally occurs at least 30 years after the first exposure to asbestos, most other cancers caused by asbestos develop within about 10 to 40 years of initial exposure.
The Environmental Protection Agency and Asbestos-Containing Materials
According to the EPA, many people are exposed to asbestos-containing materials every day. In the past, asbestos was used in a variety of applications and building materials.
Asbestos-containing materials have been labeled as hazardous by the EPA because exposure to these fibers can cause some types of cancer and other serious health problems. However, the agency also reports that breathing asbestos fibers is the only known cause of mesothelioma, the only type of cancer directly linked to asbestos exposure.
Asbestos-containing materials remaining in homes, commercial buildings, and public places may become friable. As a result, when these materials are damaged or disturbed, they can release asbestos fibers into the air, where they may be inhaled or swallowed.
Property owners, building managers, and others who may disturb asbestos-containing materials in any way should take every precaution possible to avoid exposure to materials that contain asbestos.
Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL)
The Federal agency has determined that the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for asbestos fibers and dust is 0.1 fibers per cubic centimeter of air averaged over the 8-hour workday. This limit, also known as a time-weighted average (TWA), includes exposures to all types of asbestos, not just crocidolite and amosite.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration enforces the federal PEL. In addition, OSHA sets permissible exposure limits (PELs) for specific asbestos fibers and dust.
Chemical companies that manufacture asbestos also must comply with the Toxic Substances Control Act. This federal law requires businesses to notify the EPA if they intend to manufacture, import, or process asbestos-containing materials in more than a trivial quantity.
Companies must also notify the agency if they distribute asbestos-containing products or materials for use in more than a minimum amount.
The Asbestos Ban and Phase-Out Act of 1989
This federal law prevents the "manufacture, importation, processing, and distribution in commerce" of most asbestos-containing products as of January 1, 1993.
Businesses must notify the EPA if they manufacture, import, process, or distribute asbestos in more than de minimis quantities after July 12, 1989, to comply with this Act.
In addition, businesses currently engaged in these activities also must comply with specific notification requirements.
The Asbestos Information Act
Under this federal law, manufacturers and distributors of products containing asbestos must report to the EPA those products that contain more than 1% asbestos. The manufacturers must provide this information by July 12, 1989.
In addition, companies who wish to import or process asbestos minerals for use in manufacturing any product with more than de minimis amounts of processed asbestos dust or fibers must submit a premanufacture notification (PMN) to the EPA.
The Toxic Disease Registry lists those who develop asbestos-related diseases filing asbestos litigation and the occupational hazards associated with working on construction sites, asbestos factors, and other job sites.
The Toxic Substances Control Act
This federal law requires manufacturers who intend to "manufacture, process, or distribute in commerce" asbestos after June 1, 1976, to notify the EPA at least 90 days before starting these activities.
After this date, manufacturers of more than de minimis amounts of asbestos particles must also submit pre-manufacture notices.
Asbestos in Public Buildings
Public buildings are affected by asbestos exposure in several ways.
The EPA reports that the following activities can cause microscopic asbestos fibers to become airborne in any government building, school, or daycare facility where they may be inhaled or swallowed in older buildings:
- Repairing damaged pipes
- Installing new heating and air conditioning systems
- Removing ceiling tiles or other building materials
- Using certain maintenance procedures that cause the asbestos particles to become friable
The EPA also reports that older public buildings may contain asbestos-containing flooring materials, ceiling tiles, pipe insulation, exterior siding materials, heat-insulating transit boards between walls and ceilings, and interior paints.
EPA Regulations for Asbestos Abatement
The EPA defines asbestos abatement as any activity undertaken to identify the presence of ACM.
This abatement process includes assessing its condition to determine if it can be repaired or should be removed and to remove or encapsulate it so those airborne asbestos particles, fibers, and dust are prevented from becoming airborne.
The 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act made it illegal to remove asbestos from any public building without first notifying the EPA. The Act also specifies that no one may disturb asbestos without being certified by the EPA or an authorized state agency.
Teachers and children who inhaled asbestos fibers decades ago are provided a legal remedy. The remedy includes filing mesothelioma lawsuits.
In addition, the remedy helps seek financial compensation from the building's owner, construction industry, or others that caused a higher risk of developing mesothelioma or other asbestos diseases later in life.
EPA Regulations for Asbestos Abatement in Schools
The EPA's mandatory guidelines, known as the Model Accreditation Plan (MAP) for asbestos management in schools, states that certain school buildings or areas may contain ACM. To identify all ACM in these locations, the EPA requires each local education agency to complete an inventory of their properties containing asbestos.
The MAP also mandates that public schools inspect facilities more frequently once they have identified ACM. In addition, they must take immediate action to control and minimize exposure through administrative and engineering controls whenever ACM is damaged or disturbed by building occupants, renovations, maintenance, or repairs.
The MAP concludes that asbestos removal can be performed only by trained and certified contractors who have acquired proper permits from state agencies. The EPA also requires every contractor handling hazardous materials to obtain a National Emphasis Program (NEP) permit.
Occupations With High Levels of Asbestos Exposure
Specific occupations have a higher incidence rate of asbestos exposure than others due to the handling or proximity to toxic fibers and dust.
Construction workers, shipyard employees, and those who worked on the ground or in upper levels of buildings were all at risk.
In addition, those who served in the military were particularly vulnerable to asbestos exposure. For example, during World War II, people who worked on ships or submarines insulated with asbestos lived aboard them.
The following occupations are commonly associated with high levels of asbestos exposure. Therefore, anyone who works in these areas should be aware of the potential for asbestos exposure and take precautions to limit their contact with all types of asbestos products.
- Agricultural workers
- Aircraft mechanics and Aerospace workers
- Auto mechanics installing brake linings
- Asbestos insulation abatement workers
- Asbestos workers
- Boiler workers
- Brake mechanics and installers
- Brick masons
- Building inspectors
- Carpenters and joiners
- Chemical plant and system operators
- Chemical workers
- Chimney sweeps
- Cement, concrete, clay, and stone product manufacturing employees
- Construction workers and subcontractors
- Crane operators
- Dairy farmers
- Demolition crews
- Die setters
- Drywall workers
- General contractors
- General Population working with asbestos-containing machinery
- Electricians (especially underground utility workers)
- Employees in the U.S. shipyards
- Factory workers
- Hospital workers
- HVAC workers
- Industrial employees
- Insulation workers, installers, and attendants
- Iron and steel mill employees
- Laborers performing maintenance work or handling construction materials
- Machine operators
- Maintenance workers (e.g., janitors)
- Military veterans and active servicemembers
- Mining occupations - especially underground miners in the Australian asbestos belt, South African gold mines, and American uranium mines
- Navy shipyard workers
- Navy veterans
- Pipe systems workers
- Plumbers and pipefitters
- Police officers
- Power plant workers
- Railroad yard employees
- Refractory materials makers and installers (e.g., bricklayers, plasterers, stonemasons)
- Roofing ironworkers
- Shipyard workers
- Tailors and dressmakers
- Textile mill workers
- People volunteering for cleanup of natural disasters
- 9/11 workers and first responders
Data shows that out of all the occupations listed above, firefighters are most at risk today to develop mesothelioma compared to other jobs.
For example, a 2015 study in the British Medical Journal identified that Belgian steel mill workers were 300 times more likely to die of mesothelioma than the remaining population.
Compensation for Occupational Exposure to Asbestos
The U.S. Congress, Department of Veterans Affairs, and other governmental agencies have found legal remedies for individuals exposed to asbestos who develop mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses.
The compensation for occupational exposure to asbestos is highly regulated in the workplace. Currently, The U.S. Congress and Department of Labor allow people who worked in the following jobs to file a claim:
- Building and construction workers
- Power plant employees
- Municipal fire department employees
- Military personnel
- Shipyard workers (for recent claims only)
- Transportation authority employees (i.e., train crews, subway workers, bus drivers)
Diagnosing Mesothelioma or Another Asbestos-Related Disease
Many construction products contained asbestos, including asbestos gaskets, asbestos cement, fire protection gear, electrical equipment, fireproofing material, HVAC systems, and other materials used in building structures.
High concentrations of asbestos toxicity and chemical plants, asbestos companies, and renovation projects have hurt many industrial workers who unknowingly encountered airborne asbestos fibers and dust.
Mesothelioma doctors need the best diagnostic tools to identify an asbestos-related disease accurately. Typically, the doctor will take a full medical history of their patient to determine if they had any risk of asbestos exposure during their lifetime.
Diagnostic tests might include:
- X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans
- Biopsy, a surgical procedure to remove a sample of the patient's tumor tissue for testing
- Blood tests to identify protein markers on the surface of cancer cells
Asbestos exposure history is critical in diagnosing an asbestos-related disease. The doctor will need to know where people worked and if they were around any other people exposed to asbestos dust or fibers.
The doctor will likely recommend various treatments and palliative care to patients developing mesothelioma to improve their comfort and extend their prognosis based on professional medical advice.
Asbestos Trust Funds
Many states created asbestos settlement funds to help victims who were exposed in the workplace by certain companies. These entities are called Asbestos Trust Funds, which the Department of Labor regulates.
A claimant must file a claim with each entity in which they worked to receive compensation. Mesothelioma patients diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness can seek financial compensation for their asbestos exposure at work.
Malignant Mesothelioma Compensation to Financially Protect Workers and Surviving Family Members
Were you diagnosed with mesothelioma, or did you lose a loved one who died after developing cancer after exposure to asbestos?
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, is the nation's leading provider of mesothelioma financial recovery for injured victims and surviving family members.
Our experienced team of attorneys and experts can help you file a claim for asbestos trust funds or file a lawsuit against negligent companies. In addition, we work with trusted financial partners to financially protect your family and get you the money you deserve.
Surviving families who lost a loved one after they were exposed to asbestos from industrial materials, buildings constructed before 1970, or another health hazard could likely receive compensation that includes:
- Funeral and burial costs
- Hospital bills and medical expenses
- Lost wages, loss of household services, and compensation for their pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium and companionship
- Compensation that could last a lifetime
These programs are divided by state, so it is important to consult with asbestos experts who understand how to file a claim depending on your state's regulations. In some cases, you may have up to two years from the date of diagnosis to file your claim.
Representation From Mesothelioma Lawyers With Malignant Mesothelioma Experience
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, is currently leading the nation in providing mesothelioma compensation for injured victims and their families through settlement claims or litigation.
We are also proudly celebrating many legal victories in mesothelioma cases. As a result, we can ensure that their family gets the maximum financial compensation to cover their medical bills and compensate them for their loss.
Our attorneys and staff offer the experience and individual attention you need as you consider your options to make difficult decisions about your life, health and family stability. We will be there every step of the way as we guide you through this process and fight for your legal rights.
Contact our legal team at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today to schedule a free consultation.
We accept all personal injury cases and wrongful death lawsuits through contingency fee agreements. This promise ensures you pay nothing until your case is resolved through a jury trial award or negotiated settlement.
We will review your case and let you know how to help when we meet with you.
Occupations With High Levels of Asbestos Exposure Resources:
- Veterans and Mesothelioma
- NCBI: Mesothelioma