Construction Workers are at Risk for Developing Mesothelioma
People occupationally exposed to asbestos inhale the mineral’s fibers, which create scar tissue in the lungs, leading to the development of asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma; a form of cancer for which there is no cure.
Though the use of asbestos is now better regulated, construction workers may be commonly exposed to asbestos even today. Beginning in the 1940s, asbestos was used in many occupations and consumer products, from shipyards to clothes, and from toys to construction materials. Despite the stricter regulations existing today, the fact remains that many old buildings contain asbestos; and workers involved in their maintenance and demolition can be exposed to asbestos contamination.
In the past, asbestos was used in fireproofing, sheet floorings, pipe insulation, vinyl floors, floor tiles, acoustic tiles, and cement products. Even today, asbestos is used in roof panels and packing gaskets. Construction workers can thus be heavily exposed to asbestos if they aren’t trained properly on how to handle it safely.
High-risk trades include pipefitters, plumbers, insulators, sheet metal workers, and electricians. But workers in any capacity may be affected in the case of the remodeling and demolition of old structures or roads that were likely made with asbestos.
Asbestos can be released into the air, especially during demolition of old asbestos-rich buildings. The dangerous fibers are then inhaled, dramatically increasing the chances of developing fatal mesothelioma. But the cancer’s latency period can be two decades or more before any symptoms are experienced.
Today, EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) and OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Agency) have very strict regulations for the use, worker-manipulation, and disposal of asbestos. However, this is a relatively recent development and many companies are still not complying with regulations.
Construction workers who have developed asbestos-related lung cancer and mesothelioma are entitled to financial compensation from the companies and individuals responsible for their asbestos exposure.
In America, thousands of construction workers die of lung cancer every year because they have unsuspectingly been exposed to asbestos over a life of hard work on construction sites.