Any power plant built in the United States before 1980 is likely to have been constructed using large amounts of asbestos. Because power plants generate so much heat, the use of asbestos was seen as an effective measure against fire hazards. Unfortunately, the asbestos used to protect power plant employees from harm actually exposed them to it.
Asbestos Used Extensively Throughout Power Plants
Asbestos was used extensively as insulation in the machinery, piping and flooring of power plants. It was commonly found in:
- Gaskets used to seal valves, pumps, and piping
- Cement containing asbestos
- Floor and ceiling tiles
Basically, asbestos was likely used anywhere extreme heat could potentially cause harm to employees or damage to facilities.
As a result, power plant workers would spend their entire shift working in an environment where they were literally surrounded by asbestos. Not only would they inhale the harmful substance at work, but they would go home to their families wearing clothes covered in toxic asbestos fibers, becoming, themselves, a walking health hazard to their loved ones.
The True Cost of Asbestos Exposure
When these older power plants were constructed, the general consensus on asbestos was that it was as an economically sound safeguard against a power plant’s innate fire, heat and electricity hazards. As it turns out, the use of asbestos has proven to be anything but economically sound.
According to a 2002 RAND Institute study
- The cost of asbestos litigation up to the point of the study totaled $54 billion dollars
- The study indicated that at the time of the study that only 20 percent of all claimants had come forward. This means that ultimately, the financial cost of asbestos use in our society could total as much as $265 billion in the U.S. alone.
Steps to Remove Asbestos from Power Plants
Over the last few decades most aging power plants have been renovated with the intent of removing existing asbestos. While asbestos removal is a step in the right direction, for many power plant employees it is too little to late.
The symptoms of asbestos related diseases can take up to 50 years to develop, and power plant workers are still being diagnosed with debilitating illnesses more than 30 years after initial steps were taken to safeguard against asbestos exposure.
If you worked at a power plant during or before the 1980s, you may have been exposed to this dangerous substance and should seek a pulmonary checkup from your doctor.
For legal help or additional resources and information about asbestos and power plants, contact Mesothelioma Centers today.