Asbestos exposure is sometimes overshadowed by the various environmental and secondhand exposure risks to the public at large. Still asbestos is a significant threat to workers occupationally. Because of this, it is important to consider what occupations are at the highest risk of asbestos-related cancers. Here’s what you need to know.

Exposición ocupacional al Asbesto

Asbestos once enjoyed the title of miracle mineral, and it seems to be as invincible to any regulation as it was indestructible in its use. This eventually changed however. After decades of previously suppressed evidence being unearthed as far back as the 1930s, workers exposed to asbestos were beginning to make headway in court proceedings. This came after many failed attempts for victims to receive compensation due to the hidden truth about asbestos by industry coverups. 

Now that the things were trending in a different direction, the government was forced to act. 

This finally came about formally in the 1980s when asbestos found itself in a much different sentiment in the public sphere. What was once a miracle mineral was now a deadly substance, and it needed to be removed. Until the 1980s ban of most types of asbestos by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), asbestos was used widespread throughout various types of industries.

Did my industry use asbestos?

In general, if you have to ask whether your industry used asbestos, the likelihood is already strong. Asbestos was pervasive, cheap, and widely available both for companies to use in their products and for consumers to buy in both industrial and private sectors. That being said, there are some more notorious examples of industries that used large amounts of asbestos in their products and production processes. Some of these include:

  • Mining and Milling- mechanics, brake repair, HVAC
  • Construcción– demolition, roofing flooring
  • Astilleros– shipbuilding, firefighting, railroad workers
  • Refinerías– pipe fitting, boilers, gaskets
  • Fundiciones– steelworkers, ironworkers, electricians
  • Fábricas– insulation, textiles, cement

Military Personnel and Veterans

One of the most notorious industries for asbestos exposure is actually not that of “industry” workers but instead, military personnel. Asbestos was widely used throughout military installations including barracks, housing, refit facilities, vessels, aircraft, tanks and even gear. 

Fireproofing is one of the most important aspects of asbestos, and it explains why it was used for insulation purposes throughout the military. Sadly, this means that from the advent of asbestos use in the military, dating back before World War II, asbestos was commonplace in the lives of millions of people in the military alone. 

This is only a small list of examples, but the kinds of occupations that represent these, as well as those who worked alongside these occupations, were at equal risk of coming into contact with asbestos materials and contaminated environments. Evidence also shows a causal link between these occupations and esophageal, stomach and colorectal cancer after being exposed to asbestos.

Asbestos and Lung Cancer

Many people only associate asbestos with mesothelioma, but it causes far more lung cancer. 

Beyond that, many people only think about it being inhaled, but it can be swallowed from the air (being microscopic, with no taste/smell), and causes throat cancer, stomach cancer, and colon-rectal cancer, as well as ovarian cancer, (the latter mostly from talc contamination, though many studies show asbestos fibers can migrate to other parts of the body). In short, it must be understood that asbestos is a known carcinógeno to the human body. 

Other Exposure Concerns

Sadly, the prospect of asbestos-related diseases is underreported, do in large part to the occurrence of illnesses in unsuspecting spouses. In fact, in 2021, the CDC announced that in the past two decades, the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma rate in women actually went up, and was still being under-reported. One big reason for this is that one in five of the women with mesothelioma described themselves as homemakers, people who had no reason to suspect they were being exposed. This is often caused by industry workers unknowingly carrying asbestos fibers on their clothing and into their home, but others at risk of secondhand asbestos exposure. 

The Need for Testing

Because of the pervasive nature of asbestos in these industries and in virtually any building constructed during or before the 1980s, it is hard to overstate the importance of asbestos testing, particularly in older building where materials have been damaged due to rain, wind or fire. Moreover, anyone interested in beginning a home renovation project in an older home should ensure that their home is free of asbestos in the area where work is being done. Otherwise, the situation could quickly become a contamination issue, putting everyone at risk.

The Need for Screening

If you are an industry worker or someone who may have come into contact with asbestos by secondhand exposure, it is vital to undergo medical screening as soon as symptoms begin to occur. Since asbestos symptoms often occur decades after exposure, this also includes youth who may have been exposed decades ago. Often times, asbestos exposure in youth can develop into a mature form of lung cancer decades later. Getting tested once is an important first step, but because of latency issues, some people may first test negatively for asbestos scarring, only for positive tests to show up decades later. 

For example, many present asbestos victims who received a postive test first showed negative results when tested in the 1990s. Again, it is vital to remain proactive, especially when symptoms begin to show up. Symptoms attributed to asbestos exposure are often a tell tale sign of exposure, but the only objective way to determine if asbestos fibers are present in your body is by undergoing a professional medical examination. This is done by a special type of X-ray test, which can show things like lung scarring from asbestos exposure.

Getting Compensation After Screening

Screening is an important first step of the process, but it’s only the first step. The goal of getting screened for asbestos exposure is not only to know whether you have contracted an asbestos-related disease, but to get the objective evidence you need to go forward toward securing compensation for treatment. 

This may seem overwhelming if you think that your only option is to appear in court and compile significant documentation, expert witness testimony, and more, but you should know that there are faster, easier ways to receive compensation. One of the most significant options is to file an asbestos trust claim, which does not require a lawsuit or need to appear in court whatsoever. Since these funds are already set aside by asbestos companies, they serve as the fastest way to receive compensation, based on qualification. 

Every type of asbestos-related diseases can be eligible for compensation including non-cancerous forms of asbestos illnesses such as asbestosis, pleural plaques or COPD. These can all be developed from asbestos exposure, and there is no hierarchy for qualifying based on how severe an asbestos illness is, compared to others. Instead, qualification is based on identifying the source of asbestos exposure, how exposure took place, and whether the industry is liable for providing compensation.

Determining what types of compensation you are eligible for can be an overwhelming process, but that’s where a professional asbestos attorney can help. An expert asbestos attorney can help you each step of the way, entirely risk-free, so be sure to reach out today to know your options.