Officials with the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have said that no toxic substance has had a more harmful effect on public health than asbestos.
From the miners who quarried the mineral to the manufacturers who passed their products to the consumer, millions have run the risk of asbestos exposure. From 1940 to 1970, approximately 27.5 million people were potentially exposed to asbestos at work. In many cases, companies intentionally withheld the dangers of asbestos from unsuspecting workers.
Hardly anyone working at a manufacturing job was safe from exposure. Their families weren’t safe either. Employees have brought asbestos-contaminated clothing from the workplace into the family home, exposing family members to asbestos.
Because of asbestos’ qualities as an insulator, many different people employed in the manufacturing industry risked exposure just going to work every day, whether they were handling the asbestos directly or happened to be working near asbestos-containing products. According to the Asbestos Information Association, there are more than 3,000 household and commercial products that contain asbestos. About 1.2 billion square feet of asbestos insulation can be found in hundreds of thousands of buildings in the United States.
Residents who live near mining, milling and manufacturers also run the risk of exposure. According to some estimates, fibers released from construction sites have resulted in environmental asbestos levels approximately 100 times greater than the levels that naturally occur in the environment.
Because of its high resistance to heat, fire and corrosion, asbestos-containing products were commonly used aboard many Navy ships through the 1970s. Sadly, this has led to a disproportionately high number of mesothelioma diagnoses in Navy and other military veterans. Even Navy Adm. Elmo Zumwalt, Chief of U.S. Naval Operations in the 1970s (who our mesothelioma lawyers), was felled by mesothelioma due to his exposure to asbestos while serving in the Navy.
Sources: Occupational Exposure to Asbestos, 51 Fed. Reg. 22,615 (June 20, 1986); William J. Nicholson, “Occupational Exposure to Asbestos: Population at Risk and Projected Mortality – 1980-2030,” 3 AM. J. IND. MED. 259, 306 (1982); Pathology of Asbestos-Related Diseases (Victor L. Roggli et al. eds., 2004).
Working with asbestos has placed tradesmen at risk for developing asbestos-related diseases, including mesothelioma. Here is a partial list of trades likely to have a high number of asbestos disease cases:
Asbestos exposure is particularly heavy at certain job sites. Here is a partial list: