High-Risk Professions that Involve Working with Asbestos

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High-Risk Professions that Involve Working with Asbestos

Did you know that there are high-risk professions that involve working with asbestos? Many people don’t think about it, but when they hear the word “asbestos,” they probably think of old buildings and flaking ceilings.

However, asbestos is still present in a lot of workplaces today. If you’re in a high-risk profession, it’s essential to be aware of the dangers and take precautions to protect yourself.

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a mineral formerly utilized in various products, including building insulation, flooring, shingles, and cement. It’s naturally occurring and is a combination of tiny fibers that can be inhaled into the lungs and cause health problems.

This deadly carcinogen is found in schools, hospitals, factories, and office buildings. Older, remodeled, and repaired homes still contain asbestos.

The US Environmental Protection Agency reports that asbestos is still used in many products, including automobile brakes and clutches, roofing materials, and gaskets.

Asbestos was extensively utilized in the United States. It’s a mineral that occurs naturally in a fibrous form and is heat, water, chemicals, and electricity resistant.

Diseases Caused by Asbestos:

Asbestos may cause three primary diseases:

Mesothelioma:

Malignant mesothelioma is terminal cancer that originates in the thin layer of tissue covering most of your internal organs.

Many years after asbestos exposure, mesothelioma symptoms may not manifest. This delay means that people who worked with asbestos in the past may not know they are at risk for developing this disease.

Treatment for mesothelioma includes surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Some people may also have a pleurodesis treatment, which destroys the chest cavity lining so that tumors cannot grow back.

There has been a link between veterans and mesothelioma owing to their exposure to asbestos during their military service. The Department of Defense used large amounts of asbestos in several materials until late 1970.

Lung Cancer:

The leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States is lung cancer. Smoking is responsible for about 85% of all lung cancers, 15% occurring in nonsmokers.

Asbestos fibers can get lodged deep in the lungs, and over time these fibers can cause cells to change and form tumors.

These tumors can grow large enough to invade other body parts and spread (metastasize) to other organs. This process can take many years, even decades.

Asbestosis:

It is a severe and non-cancerous lung disease caused by long-term exposure to asbestos fibers. People with asbestosis have shortness of breath, a dry hacking cough, and chest pain symptoms.

As the condition worsens, people may lose their appetite, have trouble sleeping, and feel tired.

Treatment for asbestosis includes quitting smoking, taking medicine to help loosen mucus in the lungs, and exercising regularly. Some people may need oxygen therapy.

It is vital to know which profession may involve asbestos to take the necessary precautions. It’s critical to inform your doctor if you’ve been exposed to asbestos so they can keep an eye on your health.

Here are some high-risk professions that involve working with asbestos:

Construction Workers

On a typical day, the first sound to greet the construction worker is a saw or hammer. These hardworking, laborious people are constantly on the move, lifting shingles, ceilings, and walls. Most people don’t know that roofing materials are often made with asbestos.

It puts construction workers under a constant threat of asbestos exposure. Contractors engaged in demolition and home remodelers are most vulnerable to asbestos exposure.

Firefighters

We all know these brave men and women put their lives on the line to save others, but what you may not know is that firefighters are at high risk for asbestos exposure.

When asbestos-containing materials catch fire, they release harmful toxins into the air. These airborne fibers can be inhaled by firefighters, putting them at risk of developing mesothelioma.

Firefighters are also exposed to asbestos when they enter burning buildings that contain the material. Many firefighters develop mesothelioma years after retirement because of their exposure to asbestos while on the job.

Power Plant Workers

Asbestos was once widely used in power plants because it resisted heat and fire. Boilermakers, electricians, and pipefitters who worked in power plants were constantly exposed to asbestos dust and fibers.

Over time, this exposure can lead to the development of mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases.

Power plant workers deal with cutting pipes, insulating boilers turbines, and cleaning up asbestos debris. Even if these workers wear protective gear, they can still come in contact with airborne asbestos fibers.

Shipbuilders

For a long time, asbestos was utilized in the building of ships because it is a fire-resistant material. Shipyard workers were constantly exposed to asbestos dust and fibers, leading to the development of mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases.

Workers in demolition, repair, and decommissioning yards have the highest risk of asbestos exposure since they are handling old materials.

In the past, construction workers and boiler welders had significant exposures. It’s also worth noting that Navy veterans and government shipyard workers are among the plaintiffs in about 30% of mesothelioma claims.

Bottom Line:

There are many high-risk professions when it comes to asbestos exposure. The above listed are only a few. If you’ve been exposed to asbestos, make an appointment with a doctor. Early diagnosis is key to successful treatment.

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