Asbestos and Aircraft Mechanics
Aircraft mechanics are specialized workers with special training, expertise, and experience in the aviation industry. Asbestos has heat-resistant and insulating properties, so it is used for many aircraft parts and products. Civilian and military aircraft mechanics were exposed to asbestos dust for decades from parts and components in hazardous environments (hangars, military aircraft carriers, and airfields). The aircraft industry started using asbestos in the 1920s.
During World War II in the 1940s, asbestos was present in every version of aircraft. Aircraft mechanics can still be exposed when working on older planes. Asbestos was used in aircraft manufacturing until the 1980s, when the dangers of asbestos became known. Manufacturers are still developing products that contain asbestos, such as gaskets and brake pads. Products containing less than 1 percent of asbestos are not required to display a warning label to consumers under new restrictions.
The Dangers of Asbestos Exposure
When asbestos minerals or other asbestos-containing materials are disturbed, it can release thin, tiny asbestos fibers into the air, which can be inhaled or ingested. When Over many years asbestos-related diseases can develop that can be serious or fatal. These types of diseases include:
- Lung cancer
- Pleural effusion, a type of pleurisy
- Pleural plaque, which are rigid structures around the lungs and diaphragm
- Colon Cancer
- Throat Cancer
How are Aircraft Mechanics Exposed to Asbestos?
Modern-day aircraft mechanics can be responsible for various tasks, often working with planes that are decades old. The air transport industry constructs airplanes for longevity, so many old planes are still serviceable today. Aircraft mechanics may work on planes built from the 1940s to the 1970s, when asbestos products were most heavily used. Asbestos can be found in many parts, tools, and other aircraft components in the aviation and aerospace industry.
It has the heat resistance, flexibility, and durability to function well, primarily in brake parts. When parts and materials refit and under maintenance, asbestos fibers were disturbed and released into the air. Before it was a known carcinogen, the United States military used asbestos, especially in the Air Force and Navy branches. The mineral was used in aircraft production, among other tools, parts, and building products.
OSHA has mandated guidelines to limit and contain asbestos in the air and on surfaces in a workplace. The VA has compensation programs for veterans who have developed cancer from such exposures during their service and can receive financial compensation and health care.
In September 2019, FAA guidelines stated the risk of asbestos exposure is not a significant concern for aircraft mechanics working on newer planes. Caution is needed if working on older planes with old parts.
We have been involved in asbestos lawsuits since the 1970s, when cases were first coming to trial. Because of GPW’s involvement in asbestos litigation from the beginning, we have a clear understanding of what is required to succeed in asbestos and mesothelioma lawsuits. Contact us today!
Occupational Safety and Health Administration [Link]
Sherman Stephen “WWII U.S. Aircraft Manufacturers” (2012) [Link]
Delgado Amanda “Asbestosis” Healthline (2020) [Link]