Current Industries And Occupations With The Highest Incidence Of Mesothelioma
Asbestos is a fibrous mineral that is almost indestructible with properties that make it resistant to heat, chemicals, and breakdown. Asbestos fibers were often combined with other materials for thousands of industrial, maritime, automotive, and building products. Specific industries and occupations are associated with heavy asbestos exposure. Asbestos exposure is the Only known cause of mesothelioma.
Six Industries with the Highest Rates of Mesothelioma:
Construction and Building
Studies by the CDC show 80percent of asbestos exposure in the 20th century occurred in construction workers. With millions of Americans being employed in the construction industry each year, construction workers are among the highest-risk occupations.
Between the 1920s and the 1980s, asbestos use throughout the building and construct ion industry was rampant and could be found in vinyl floor tiles, roof tiles and coatings, ceiling tiles, siding, insulation, plasters, paint, and much more. As workers handle these materials on construction sites, the asbestos fibers can become disturbed and inhaled or ingested, putting them at risk of developing malignant mesothelioma.
According to CDC studies, firefighters are 2.29 times more likely to develop mesothelioma than the general public. Though it is an excellent fire-retardant material, asbestos can become airborne as the surrounding materials burn. When working in older buildings, firefighters are at risk for inhaling microscopic asbestos fibers released into the air when building materials are damaged by fire.
Asbestos was commonly added to products used and worn by firemen due to its fire-resistant properties. Asbestos was woven or embedded into coats, hoods, fire suits, jackets, liners, boots, and gloves, among other products. Often the asbestos was woven into fabrics and thermal linings of the clothing.
Manufacturing and Industrial
A 2015 study showed a calculation of the risk of contracting cancer from asbestos for various occupations. Researchers estimated that industrial workers were over four times more likely to develop pleural mesothelioma than the general population. Most manufacturing companies used asbestos products to insulate equipment, gas valves, metal surfaces, and furnaces.
When industrial workers used power tools on products containing asbestos, the scoring, drilling, grinding, or cutting through those materials caused the fibers to become airborne. Additionally, workers wore asbestos-contaminated protective gear such as welding gloves or vests.
Power plants use combustion to generate electricity, which produces intense heat. Power plants once used large quantities of heat-resistant asbestos-containing materials. Asbestos was also incorporated into the masks, mitts, aprons, and other protective gear worn by workers to protect them from heat and fire.
Workers that install and maintain pipes and electrical appliances and anyone involved in refurbishing older power plants are among those at the highest risk. While it’s no longer done, workers would spray or apply asbestos on boilers, pipes, and other equipment in the course of their duties. Any workers who did these tasks and spent time in tight quarters with poor ventilation would have inhaled the asbestos fibers floating in the air.
Shipbuilding and Repair
Shipyard workers were at a high risk of occupational asbestos exposure because they had to remove, install, or repair asbestos-containing products daily. There is considerable concern about the fire aboard ships, so they built ships with heavy amounts of asbestos on everything.
Workers from U.S. shipyards have experienced an abnormally high amount of mesothelioma cases after exposure to asbestos from 1950-64. Almost 30percent of mesothelioma lawsuits are filed by military and navy veterans and government shipyard workers. Shipyard jobs that exposed workers to asbestos include machinists, pipefitters, electricians, boiler workers, and painters.
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