Asbestos industries in the U.S. and around the world have been revealed to be the source of devastating illnesses in many thousands of people. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that each year, roughly 125 million people around the world are exposed to asbestos in the workplace, and more than 90,000 people around the world die from asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis.
Asbestos in the workplace is such a significant problem that the federal government’s safety agencies, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have created many regulations and guidelines regarding asbestos in professional settings. Together these regulations are meant to protect workers from the toxic effects of excessive asbestos in the workplace – effects such as lung cancer, asbestosis,mesothelioma cancer, pulmonary fibrosis, and other serious disorders.
Asbestos Is Toxic, but Industries Still Use It
WHO advocates a global ban on asbestos. The industries that have mined, processed, and used asbestos over the first two-thirds of the 20th century have exposed millions of people to toxic levels of asbestos, and in many less-industrialized nations around the world, asbestos industries continue to wreak havoc on the health of workers and other innocent victims.
Significant Workplace Asbestos Exposure
According to OSHA, about 1.3 million workers in the construction industry and general industry are exposed to significant levels of asbestos in the workplace. The worst exposure occurs when the asbestos is disturbed; the asbestos fibers can then be released into the air, where they may be inhaled or they may stick to a worker’s clothing, shoes, skin, and hair.
The Huge Number of Asbestos Industries
In addition to asbestos mines, the number of asbestos-related industries worldwide is rather alarming, spanning companies involved in:
- renovation and demolition
- metal works
- chemical plants
- power plants
- plumbing and electrical work
- construction of homes, schools, and workplaces
- automobile parts such as brakes and clutch pad
- asbestos products (there are literally thousands)
The highest levels of asbestos fibers are found at sites where asbestos-containing products are being removed, since the removal process disturbs the asbestos. Unfortunately, asbestos in older buildings that are being demolished or renovated is a very common problem.
Controlling Asbestos in the Workplace
Although asbestos was removed as a component of many products by the 1980s, there are many other products whose purposes necessitate the use of asbestos. The federal government has developed strict regulations for dealing with asbestos in the workplaces where these products are made or handled.
Engineering controls, personal protective equipment, and administrative actions are the three main ways that OSHA and EPA regulations help to control asbestos in the workplace. An example of an engineering control is the use of a ventilation system on site. Personal protective equipment can include respiratory protection and adequate clothing (including a requirement that workers launder and leave their work clothes at the worksite rather than taking them home). Administrative actions to help protect those who work with asbestos include providing showers at the worksite and limiting the amount of time that workers can handle the material. Asbestos exposure limits are usually too high, however, and the workers are still exposed to deadly fibers.
If You’ve Dealt with Asbestos in the Workplace
The men and women who worked in asbestos industries are at an especially grave risk of contracting an asbestos disease. Asbestos is composed of millions of microscopic fibers that are so light they can hang suspended in the air for hours. The employees of asbestos industries may inhale these fibers without even being aware that they’re doing so – in some cases, on a daily basis for months or years.
Many people dealing with an asbestos-related disease such as lung cancer or mesothelioma cancer realize that their exposure to asbestos in their former workplace is probably the source of their disease. If this scenario sounds familiar to you, contact Mesothelioma Treatment Centers today. We’ll be happy to provide you with information regarding financial, medical and other support resources available to you, including the opportunity to look into compensation with the help of a lawyer. An attorney experienced in asbestos cases can take a look at the cost of treatment options and other expenses related to your illness. Our experienced attorneys understand the devastating effects of asbestos exposure and serve as tireless advocates for individuals and families harmed by the toxin. Contact us today for a no-cost, private consultation.