Who is Most Susceptible to Asbestos Exposure?
Because of the immense popularity of asbestos for much of the 20th century, many people were exposed to what we now know is a carcinogen. Asbestos causes lung cancer and mesothelioma, as well as contributes to cancers such as throat, esophageal, gallbladder, colorectal, gastrointestinal, and kidney. Additionally, asbestos can cause your body to develop asbestosis, pleural effusions, and asbestos warts. Sadly, some people were exposed to asbestos more than others and are more at risk for these problems.
To fully understand the amount of people that came into contact with asbestos, it is important to know the widespread impact it had on a number of different industries, including construction, automotive, and ship building. This is because of the numerous benefits provided by the material.
Asbestos is part of the silicate mineral family. Silicates have extraordinary insulating capabilities. They are resistant to heat, flame, chemicals, electricity, and biodegradation. Additionally, asbestos itself has some helpful characteristics, such as high tensile strength and flexibility. This means that it can easily be added to a number of different materials to help them resist potentially dangerous substances.
However, despite some beliefs starting in the early 1900s that asbestos was dangerous, many industries went ahead and utilized the material. In the construction industry, asbestos was used in joint compound, roofing tar, insulation, ceiling tiles, vinyl flooring, and much more. For the automotive industry, asbestos was utilized for gaskets, brake pads and shoes, and clutch plates. Lastly, ships were outfitted with much of the same asbestos insulation as in construction.
Thus, people who worked in shipyards from the 1930s to 1970s were probably exposed to lots of asbestos. Additionally, servicemen and women who were part of the U.S. Navy during this time were living in virtual containers of asbestos because of the poor ventilation and close quarters of asbestos-laden ships and submarines. Therefore, many veterans from this time are now discovering that they have mesothelioma and other asbestos-related disorders.
As mentioned above, construction workers and mechanics are also at risk for asbestos-related injuries. Electricians, plumbers, gas workers, and other construction-related workers all had the chance to come into contact with the carcinogen. Additionally, mechanics who specialized in brake and clutch jobs are also at risk for things like mesothelioma because the friction of driving can create a buildup of airborne asbestos fibers which are then released when you change the brake pad, shoe, or clutch plate.
Surprisingly, another group at risk for asbestos exposure is teachers and educational administrators. This is because they spend a lot of time in the same building, which can be an older school. Also, as asbestos does have some protective properties, it was often used in schools to keep fires from spreading.
No matter what your career is or was, you can develop mesothelioma and other problems from asbestos exposure. If you or someone you know has an asbestos-related disease, you should speak to an attorney about your options.