Understanding asbestos exposure risks in occupations, industries, and secondary exposure.
If you or a loved one have recently been diagnosed with lung cancer, it is important to understand the potential causes and risk factors associated with this devastating disease. Unfortunately, one significant risk factor that sometimes goes unnoticed is asbestos exposure. Asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral, was once widely used in various industries due to its heat-resistant and insulating properties. However, prolonged asbestos exposure can lead to serious health consequences, including lung cancer.
Occupations and industries with high risk of asbestos exposure
Certain occupations and industries have historically had higher risks of asbestos exposure. Industries where employees are at an increased risk of developing asbestos-related lung cancer or mesothelioma include:
- Construction. Construction workers involved in the demolition or renovation of older buildings may encounter asbestos in insulation, flooring, roofing materials, and other construction components.
- Oil and gas. Oilfield workers are at high risk of asbestos exposure due to the widespread use of asbestos-containing materials in insulation, gaskets, seals, drilling mud additives, and machinery components.
- Shipbuilding. Shipyard work often involved the extensive use of asbestos in ship components such as insulation, boiler rooms, and engine rooms, putting shipyard workers at risk.
- Manufacturing. Asbestos was commonly used in manufacturing plants, particularly in the production of textiles, cement, plastics, and friction products like brake pads and clutches.
- Mining and milling. Individuals working in asbestos mines or mills, as well as those handling raw asbestos fibers, faced direct exposure to this hazardous mineral.
- Energy production. Power plants used asbestos in insulation, piping, boilers, turbines, and other equipment, making power plant workers susceptible to asbestos exposure.
It’s important to note that it is not only those directly working with asbestos who are at a heightened risk. Secondary exposure can occur when individuals come into contact with asbestos fibers brought home on work clothes, shoes, or through close contact with family members. For instance, wives who washed contaminated clothing or children who hugged their asbestos-exposed parent upon their return from work could also be at risk.
5 common ways asbestos exposure happens at work
Asbestos exposure can occur in various ways in the workplace. Understanding these common pathways of exposure can help individuals recognize potential risks and take necessary precautions. Here are some of the primary ways asbestos exposure can happen at work:
- Inhalation of airborne fibers. This is the most common route of asbestos exposure. This occurs when asbestos-containing materials are disturbed or damaged, releasing microscopic fibers into the air.
- Disturbing or cutting asbestos. Activities that involve cutting, drilling, sanding, or scraping asbestos-containing materials can cause the release of asbestos fibers into the air. Workers involved in these tasks, such as plumbers, electricians, or maintenance personnel, may inhale or have direct contact with the fibers.
- Handling asbestos. Workers who handle or manipulate asbestos-containing products, such as insulation, gaskets, or brake pads, may inadvertently release asbestos fibers and come into direct contact with them.
- Working in confined spaces. Asbestos exposure risk can be heightened in confined or poorly ventilated spaces, where asbestos fibers may become concentrated. Workers involved in tasks such as maintenance, repair, or inspection in confined areas, such as crawl spaces, basements, or attics, may face increased exposure risks.
- Lack of PPE. Without proper respiratory masks, coveralls, gloves, and other protective gear, workers are at a higher risk of inhaling or coming into direct contact with asbestos fibers.
Help for asbestos lung cancer victims
While the use of asbestos has significantly declined over the years due to regulations and safety measures, certain occupations still involve potential asbestos exposure and put workers at risk of developing lung cancer or mesothelioma. This includes asbestos removal or remediation workers, as well as those in industries where older asbestos-containing materials may still be present, such as building maintenance, custodial services, and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) repair.
If you have been diagnosed with lung cancer and suspect that asbestos exposure may be a contributing factor, it is crucial to take action right away. First and foremost, consult with your healthcare provider to discuss your diagnosis and treatment options. Then reach out to the experienced asbestos lung cancer lawyers at the Ferrell Law Group. For over 30 years, our law firm has specialized in handling asbestos-related cases. We have a dedicated team of attorneys who are well-versed in asbestos litigation and can serve asbestos victims nationwide. If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with lung cancer, contact us for a free consultation.