Equipment in Steel Mills That Contained Asbestos
Many industrial employees and mechanics were exposed to asbestos in the course of their daily work. Asbestos isn’t used as a direct component in steel production. However, several steel companies constructed facilities that used a lot of asbestos-containing products and equipment.
Occupational Asbestos Exposure in Steel Mill Workers
Exposure to asbestos was usually the consequence of direct handling of machinery, equipment, and materials in the process of creating steel, regardless of the type of steel mill worker. Boilers, ovens, cranes, steam pipes, insulation, hot blast stoves, rolling mills, protective garments, furnaces, molding boards, and more were among the places where asbestos was used.
These portions of the steel plant were frequently the most dangerous. However, because these pieces of equipment had to resist temperatures of thousands of degrees, they were frequently insulated with asbestos. This device would break down over time due to regular wear and tear, exposing personnel.
How Asbestos Was Utilized in Equipment
Given the massive machinery utilized in steel mills, asbestos was used for fireproofing the steel-making machinery components and as insulation boards for the steel molds. Asbestos fillers were commonly utilized in insulation boards on steel molds and in machine components, in addition to significant use as equipment insulation. Steel mill workers were at risk of inhaling asbestos dust found in the air around the plant, which was created as equipment was used, as well as during the repair of machinery and the replacement of asbestos insulation.
Once asbestos dust is inhaled or ingested, fibers enter the body, become embedded in organ tissue, and cause fibrosis, which can lead to mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other asbestos-related diseases.
Steel Mill Workers Exposure Levels to Asbestos
As a result, many steelworkers were continually exposed to asbestos fibers. A 2015 study of Belgian steelworkers who had worked for at least five years discovered that roughly a quarter of them had been exposed to asbestos. Five workers’ lung tissue samples included between 260,000 and 11 million fibers per gram of dry tissue. Even today, if they are using equipment or working in steel mills that were built before 1980, exposure to asbestos is still a risk.
Mesothelioma can take anywhere from 20 to 50 years to develop. By the time steelworkers notice symptoms, their condition has usually progressed to advanced stages of the disease. Steel mill workers with mesothelioma need a unique treatment regimen that may include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. If you or a loved one is suffering from mesothelioma or lung cancer, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact Goldberg, Persky & White, P.C., for a free consultation to learn more.
Van den Borre, L. & Deboosere, P, “Enduring health effects of asbestos use in Belgian industries: a record-linked cohort study of cause-specific mortality” (June 24, 2015) [link]
Whitmer Michelle “Steel Mill Workers and Asbestos” [link]