Asbestos is frequently found in many homes and buildings throughout the United States. Up until the 1970s, asbestos was used in various construction materials and equipment regularly. Due to the handling of electrical wires and equipment within the interior of buildings and various structures, electricians are at high-risk to exposure. Exposure to asbestos can result in a wide variety of long term health issues, one of the most common and serious being mesothelioma.
Asbestos is a heat-resistant fibrous material that has been used in thousands of products for decades. When this material is disturbed or moved, it separates into small microscopic particles that float in the air and can be inhaled by anyone within its proximity. People exposed to asbestos through occupational exposure can develop a number of diseases such as asbestosis, pleural disease, lung cancer, and mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is the most frequently diagnosed form of cancer associated with asbestos exposure. Mesothelioma is a tumor formed in the lining of the lungs, abdomen, or heart, although most often found in the lungs. Although it is rare, Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer that can only be caused by exposure to asbestos.
Anyone exposed to asbestos is at risk of developing health problems, but the amount of risk depends on several factors include (but are not limited to):
- How much asbestos has been inhaled
- How often it was inhaled
- Underlying health conditions of the person exposed
Those exposed through high-risk occupations, such as chemical technicians, show no signs of illness or health issues for a long period of time after exposure. Once exposed, it can take anywhere from 10 to 40 years or more for symptoms of an asbestos-related illness to become present.
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Before the dangers of asbestos usage were widely known, it was often used in chemical plants as a protective coating for equipment and other materials. Asbestos was routinely woven into protective gear worn by chemical plant workers and technicians.
Asbestos-containing materials often used by chemical technicians include:
- Protective Gear – Lab coats, Heat resistant gear
- Machinery & Equipment – Pumps, Valves, Turbine, Furnaces, Mixers, Grinders
- Building Materials – Sealants, Paint, Molding, Insulation
High-Risk Chemical Technician Occupations
Chemical plant workers are considered one of the occupations at highest risk for asbestos exposure. Although anyone working at a chemical plant between the 1930s and 1980s may be at risk, some occupations are at a much higher risk than others. Some of the occupations considered to be high-risk for occupational exposure include:
- Chemical engineers
- Equipment operators
- Maintenance workers
- Carpenters & Painters
- Quality control inspectors
Chemical Technicians & Asbestos Lawsuits
Once the dangers of asbestos exposure were brought to light and new regulations were formed, many chemical plants made no movement towards protecting and compensating their workers. Negligence from these chemical plants resulted in serious lawsuits and financial compensation for workers. Laws related to mesothelioma and mesothelioma victims vary by state, but a personal injury claim can be filed several years after diagnosis.
One of the most famous chemical plant and asbestos-related lawsuits includes the cases between Thomas Brown and two chemical plant corporations (Chevron Phillips Chemical Company and Union Carbide Corporation). Brown argued that he was exposed to asbestos while working and decided to sue after being diagnosed with asbestosis as a result of exposure. The jury awarded Thomas Brown over $320 million in damages, after becoming severely disabled due to asbestos exposure.
Dozens of chemical plant companies have had legal action taken against them for the exposure of asbestos to chemical plant workers. These companies include but are not limited to:
- Chevron Phillips Chemical Co.
- Dow Chemical Co.
- General Electric Company
- Rogers Corporation
- Hill Brothers Chemical
- Durez Corporation
Due to the severity of the detrimental health problems associated with asbestos exposure in chemical plants, there is available compensation for victims of exposure and their families. If you or a family member believe that you may have been exposed to asbestos while working at a chemical plant seek medical attention immediately.
Chemical plant companies and manufacturers that are responsible for occupational exposure are required to pay for expenses such as medical expenses, personal damages, loss of income, and more. Speak with a mesothelioma attorney to discuss your options for compensation and how to get started.
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- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Asbestos Exposure and Reducing Exposure. Retrieved from https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/asbestos/asbestos_exposure.html
- Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry. “Asbestos Toxicity. Who Is at Risk of Exposure to Asbestos?”. Retrieved from https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/csem/csem.asp?csem=29&po=7
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Asbestos. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/asbestos/default.html
- Dryfoos, Christopher. MesotheliomaVeterans.org. Mesothelioma in Chemical Technicians. Retrieved from https://www.mesotheliomaveterans.org/mesothelioma/causes/asbestos-exposure/occupations/chemical-technicians/
- National Cancer Institute. Asbestos Exposure and Cancer Risk. Retrieved from https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/substances/asbestos/asbestos-fact-sheet
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Asbestos. Retrieved from https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_id=10862&p_table=standards
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Malignant Mesothelioma Mortality – United States, 1999–2015. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/66/wr/mm6608a3.htm