Physical contact with asbestos is the leading cause of mesothelioma cancer, which commonly attacks the lungs and the abdomen.
Up until the industrial and commercial companies increased the use of asbestos during the 20th century, mesothelioma cases were few and far in-between. Breathing in tiny asbestos fibers begins a chain of physical and metabolic events which result in the development of multiple kinds of cancers, including mesothelioma, or an incurable breathing disorder.
The following are the top five occupations at risk of asbestos exposure:
- Construction workers. Since thousands of construction products contained asbestos before the 1980s, home renovators and demolition crews are at constant risk of exposure. Roofing and flooring materials are still created with asbestos, which places workers on new projects in danger as well.
- Industrial workers. Foremen, mechanics, chemical workers, machine operators, and trade laborers are at risk of asbestos exposure due to the products they use, such as paper, textiles, insulation, gaskets, and fireproofing.
- Firefighters. Fires instantly damage asbestos products, making the fibers airborne in the process. Unfortunately, asbestos was used to make protective firefighting clothing, including boots and helmets.
- Shipyard workers. Around 30% of mesothelioma personal injury claims are filed by shipyard workers. Those that experience the most exposure are boiler workers, as well as those working construction, repair, and demolition.
- Power plant workers. Heat-resistant products used in power plants were common sources of asbestos exposure. A study reported that nearly 33% of power plant workers had asbestos in sputum samples.
Unfortunately, asbestos is still present throughout the United States in homes, buildings, factories, schools, roads, motor vehicles, ships, and trains. While the nation heavily regulates it, it the use of asbestos is not banned.