Asbestos began its fast ascent in popularity in the late 1800s. Thanks to the Industrial Revolution, its practicality made it a component in nearly every type of structure built, as well as equipment that needed to be made heat- and chemical-resistant. Unfortunately, the negative effects of asbestos started to become apparent in the early 20th century, although they were largely ignored by various industries.
It was banned in the main starting in the early 1970s, though some asbestos is still allowed in certain products. While asbestos is not harmful in its solid state, its microscopic particles float through the air when disturbed, cut, broken or when it otherwise deteriorates. Humans can unknowingly breathe in these particles and become susceptible to their harmful and potentially fatal effects.
Mesothelioma is one of the worst effects of asbestos exposure. Mesothelioma is a deadly form of cancer whose only known cause is asbestos exposure.
Here are some types of companies that commonly used asbestos:
Chemical plants typically produce products such as dyes, insecticides, soaps, cosmetics and chemicals for other industries to make other products. These plants used asbestos to make liners for many different kinds of equipment, such as ovens, boilers, pipes, pumps and more. Even tables and workbenches, not to mention workers’ clothing, have also been manufactured using asbestos.
Workers in oil fields are surrounded by and exposed to the danger of fire, so asbestos has been used to line pipes and provide other types of insulation. Oil field workers have worn clothing made of material that incorporates the fibers of asbestos to protect them from extreme heat and fire.
Whether it was a plant using coal, steam, hydroelectric or nuclear power, thermal insulation was needed for steam pipes, generators, boilers, turbines and other machinery. Maintenance procedures could also result in workers agitating asbestos by drilling, cutting or removing it, releasing asbestos fibers into the air.
Oil refineries contain vast spans of piping used in the process of refining oil. These pipes were largely insulated with material containing asbestos due to its high level of resistance to heat and fire. Structures were also built with asbestos in walls, floors, ceiling tiles, roofs and other materials.
Manufacturing steel requires massive amounts of extreme heat. They use huge blast furnaces, ladles, rail cars, boilers and steam pipes to process iron. Workers wear heat- and fire-resistant clothing for protection. All of these used asbestos for insulation and friction protection.
Shipbuilding largely uses steel, which requires equipment that can withstand high temperatures. Asbestos was used to insulate them. Ships themselves required incinerators, pipes to carry hot water and steam, and boilers, all of which needed to be insulated. It resists corrosion, so it was very well suited for shipbuilding. Poor ventilation in ships contributed to workers and service members breathing in airborne asbestos.
Manufacturing plants are built in varying sizes, depending upon their scope. Whether they produce whole, individual products or materials that other plants and factories will use to produce products, these facilities utilize all manner of equipment. These plants also manufacture chemicals, and thus use pressure tanks, chemical reactors and piping for steam, all of which used asbestos for insulation and chemical resistance.
Prior to the 1980s, virtually any construction site had asbestos nearly everywhere. The substance was used as an additive to concrete and asphalt, roof shingles, piping, wallboard, adhesives, flooring, acoustic tiles, spray-on insulation and more. Not only were most buildings constructed with asbestos-containing materials, the construction sites themselves were loaded with it.
These industrial plants function to remove specific ore from rock. To do this, they must heat the rock and apply reducing agents to separate the ore of interest from the rock and other compounds. Blast furnaces were insulated with asbestos as well as piping, ovens, tanks, boilers and other equipment that needed to be fireproof. Individuals working in smelters also wore fire- and heat-resistant clothing containing asbestos for protection, including aprons, pants, masks and gloves.
Many products made by paper mills included those that contained asbestos. Since it is fire-resistant, it was thought to be an excellent ingredient in articles such as fiberboard, ceiling tiles and paperboard. The equipment used to produce paper products, such as rolling machines, would be insulated with asbestos to reduce the heat caused by friction. Paper mills themselves were constructed with a heavy focus on being fire-resistant.
World War II brought about the need to build a large number of ships fast. As a result, Navy shipyard workers dramatically increased for a few years. Asbestos was used to insulate large numbers of equipment that utilized high temperatures to operate, such as boilers, incinerators, and piping for hot water and steam. Shipfitters, machinists, pipefitters, painters and electricians were some of the occupations in these shipyards that were exposed to asbestos.
While all branches of the U.S. military used asbestos-supported materials and equipment, the Navy exceeded them due to the thousands of ships it needed to build for World War II. Ships needed to be fireproofed as much as possible. Everything from the paint, generators and motors, to electrical systems, gun turrets, gaskets and heat- and fire-resistant clothing contained asbestos. Thousands of workers were exposed to high levels of this material, sometimes in its powder form (to be mixed with other components) or where it was degrading with age or disturbed by maintenance or damage.
Kraft & Associates, P.C., is here to help if you or a loved one has developed mesothelioma due to exposure to asbestos in the workplace. We are dedicated to fight for your rights and help you receive the compensation you deserve for illness caused by your employer’s use of asbestos.
Call us today at 214-999-9999 or use our online form to set up a free consultation. We’re an established and professional law firm with friendly lawyers and staff who are easy to talk to.