Asbestos Jobs Causing Mesothelioma

For hundreds of years, asbestos was viewed as a miracle mineral – a material like any other with the added benefit of protecting against heat and flame and adding strength when combined with other components. It was inexpensive and abundant, so using it in factory settings, as insulation in high-heat equipment, as a sound barrier or fortifier made perfect sense and was done with great frequency: the material was everywhere.

Unfortunately, all the positive attributes of asbestos were countered by its impact on health. The same material that added strength broke down easily into microscopic particles, which when inhaled or ingested cause an inflammatory response that causes cell death and mutations, and later turns to cancerous tumors or the growth of scar tissue that inhibits breathing.

Though asbestos exposure has the potential to cause harm after even a single exposure, those who are at greatest risk are people who have been exposed in great concentration, or over an extended period of time. For this reason, asbestos-related illnesses like mesothelioma and asbestosis are most commonly seen in people who worked around or with the material on a day-to-day or regular basis. This is known as occupational exposure. Other circumstances that can lead to asbestos exposure include the release of the material into the air as a result of disasters; those who experienced second-hand exposure; those who were exposed to products containing asbestos; and those who lived or worked close to asbestos operations. The veterans community has also been struck hard by asbestos-related diseases as a result of the frequent use of the material in military applications.

  • Occupational Exposure – There are many occupations that have high risk of exposure to asbestos. In some cases this is because the material is used to insulate or strengthen workers’ environment or equipment, and in some cases because it is a component of materials that they are working with. Occupations that are at particular risk include insulators, factory workers, electricians, plumbers, shipyard workers and firefighters. The material also poses a risk to those working in buildings that were constructed using asbestos, including school teachers.
  • Disaster Exposure – When a building or home that was constructed using asbestos is damaged by a disaster, the asbestos breaks down and is easily inhaled. Following the terrorism attacks of 9/11 tremendous amounts of asbestos were sent into the environment around “Ground Zero.” Similarly, when hurricanes, earthquakes, flooding or fire destroy homes and buildings, the asbestos within is damaged and dispersed.
  • Second-hand Exposure – Family members and friends of those who work with asbestos are at risk of exposure when asbestos particles are carried into their environment on the worker’s clothing, skin, or hair. There are many instances of housewives being sickened with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases after years of shaking out and washing their husband’s asbestos-contaminated clothing.
  • Proximity to Asbestos Operations – Because asbestos mines and processing plants did not utilize proper containment processes, asbestos particles and dust were carried into nearby towns and communities. There are many cases of asbestos-related diseases being diagnosed in people whose homes were along the route traveled by asbestos transporting trucks and trains, and of asbestos being improperly stored outside in large piles that were easily disturbed by wind.
  • Veterans – Roughly one third of all people diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases are veterans of the American military. This is because before the material’s dangers were known, the U.S. Armed Forces ordered that asbestos be included in countless applications in order to provide protection and strength. Asbestos was used in brake linings and battle ships, military uniforms and the insulation of mess halls and barracks.

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