How People Are Exposed to Asbestos

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 chrysotile asbestos 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 was represented by 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).

Asbestos Exposure in the Workplace

When asbestos products are used, fibers can be released into the air, which exposes workers in close proximity to the carcinogen. Asbestos dust is so fine that, in most cases, it can only be seen through a microscope. Many workers breathed in asbestos dust for years without knowing it, causing harmful and often deadly consequences. Because of the airborne nature of asbestos dust, workers did not have to be in direct contact with asbestos materials to become exposed. Baron and Budd has represented many clients who developed mesothelioma by merely being present on job sites where asbestos was being used. Furthermore, asbestos fibers were carried off the job site on a worker’s clothes, shoes and hair, and created a cancer hazard at home for a worker’s family.

When asbestos dust is inhaled, or ingested, it has the potential to cause asbestos diseases such as mesothelioma. Asbestos disease has an incubation period that could stretch for decades and is often difficult to detect. Those who suffer from mesothelioma are often unable to detect the disease until it is in the advanced stages and is difficult to treat.

Trades Working with Asbestos

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 workers
  • Insulation workers
  • Automobile mechanics
  • Shipyard workers
  • Sailors on seagoing vessels and in dry dock
  • Maintenance employees
  • Chemical and petroleum workers
  • Locomotive repairmen
  • Stationary engineers
  • Stationary firemen
  • Power station operators
  • Electric and gas utility workers
  • Fabricated plate workers
  • Paper mill workers
  • Construction contractors
  • Plumbers
  • Concrete workers
  • Steel erectors
  • Carpenters
  • Electricians
  • Pipe fitters
  • Welders
  • Oil field workers
  • Boilermakers
  • Steel workers
  • Drywall finishers
  • Painters
  • Plasterers
  • Iron workers
  • Floor coverers
  • Masons
  • Pot tenders

Common Job Sites of Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos exposure is particularly heavy at certain job sites. Here is a partial list:

  • Chemical plants
  • Power plants
  • Refineries
  • Steel mills
  • Shipyards
  • Manufacturing plants
  • Commercial construction sites
  • Residential construction sites
  • Smelters
  • Paper mills
  • Oil fields
  • Navy shipyards
  • Military

Second-Hand Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos cancer can be very perplexing to some people who don’t remember ever working in an environment where asbestos was used. Often people will not pursue a mesothelioma lawsuit because they do not know how they could have been exposed. These people often feel that they do not have a case because they cannot remember how or when they were exposed to asbestos. However, since mesothelioma is only caused by asbestos, these people must have had exposure to asbestos at some point. Therefore, they have a right to compensation from the asbestos industry and Baron & Budd is here to help.

Many people are surprised to find that their mesothelioma was the cause of second-hand exposure. Workers who handled asbestos products would often carry the microscopic fibers on their hair, shoes and clothes into their household. There have been many cases where a woman was exposed to asbestos by washing her husband’s work clothes. Children were also exposed; even a simple hug with the child’s father after he returned from work could later cause mesothelioma or asbestos cancer in the child.

The Asbestos Industry is to Blame for Your Mesothelioma

Baron & Budd has obtained numerous documents from the asbestos industry going back to the early 1900s. For years, the asbestos industry knew that their products were causing cancer, yet they deliberately avoided using words such as “carcinogen” or “cancerous” on the warning labels. Many companies conducted internal health studies where the deadly effects of their products were proven, but chose to hide the results from the public and continued profiting from their asbestos products.

For more than 35 years, Baron & Budd has been fighting the asbestos companies that are responsible for causing mesothelioma and other asbestos diseases. The mesothelioma law firm has collected a wealth of proof, demonstrating that the asbestos companies were fully aware of the effects that asbestos exposure had on their workers and, therefore, are at fault for their workers’ cancer.

Let the mesothelioma lawyers of Baron & Budd help you as you and your family fight back. Give us a call at 855-280-7664 or contact us here.

Disclaimer: Results obtained depend on the facts of each case. Award amounts are not actual cash amounts received by plaintiffs. Deductions are made for liens, attorney fees and expenses.