Asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral, gained popularity for its versatility and heat-resistant properties. For years, industries used it extensively. However, in the latter part of the 20th century, researchers discovered the dangers associated with asbestos exposure.
Inhaling asbestos fibers can cause serious health issues, including a rare cancer known as mesothelioma. The American Cancer Society reports that doctors diagnose approximately 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma each year. Although asbestos use has declined significantly, workers in specific professions still face a higher risk of exposure because of its historical use. If you or someone you know works in one of these fields, it is essential to understand the risks.
Between the 1940s and the 1980s, many construction materials contained asbestos. Construction workers, especially those renovating or demolishing older buildings, might come across these materials and risk inhaling the dangerous fibers.
Shipbuilders and Navy veterans
Shipbuilders often used asbestos for insulation in ships. Particularly those built before the 1980s. As a result, shipbuilders and navy veterans who served on these vessels often encountered asbestos.
Older vehicles often had brake pads, clutches and gaskets that contained asbestos. Mechanics who worked on these parts could release the asbestos fibers into the air during repairs or replacements.
Power plant workers
Asbestos commonly served as an insulating material in power plants because of its ability to withstand extreme heat. Workers in these plants, especially those maintaining and repairing equipment, might interact with asbestos-containing materials.
When fires break out in older buildings, asbestos can become airborne. Firefighters rushing into these situations risk inhaling these harmful fibers. Moreover, some older fire-resistant gear even had asbestos in its composition.
Textile mill workers
Some textiles used asbestos for its heat-resistant properties. Workers in mills producing these textiles could become exposed to fibers during the weaving process.
Those who mined asbestos faced direct risks. However, miners in other industries also faced exposure if they worked in locations where asbestos naturally occurred alongside the primary mineral.
Older trains often included parts with asbestos for insulation. Workers who maintained, repaired or refurbished these trains might come across asbestos-containing materials.
Many professionals face potential exposure risks because of their work’s nature. It is important to stay informed, adopt proper safety measures and schedule regular health check-ups for individuals in these high-risk professions. Always protect yourself and ensure you and your colleagues follow necessary precautions when working in environments with possible asbestos exposure.