Asbestos and Health

At Risk Groups - Asbestos Lifeline

At Risk Groups

Asbestos has not been widely used since the 1970s, but its extensive use in building and construction means that many people have been exposed to it over the years. This occupational hazard affects people who have worked in many industries over the past several decades and continues to affect people performing repairs or maintenance where asbestos has been used in the past. Many of the workers at high risk of asbestos exposure are described below.

Miners

Asbestos is a class of minerals that exist as long thin fibrous crystals. Due to the nature of naturally occurring asbestos, one group of at-risk individuals are miners. Miners of these minerals are exposed to high levels of asbestos dust and fibers for extended periods of time.

Mechanics

Due to the ability of asbestos to resist fire and withstand extreme heat, many mechanics are also exposed to asbestos when repairing vehicle components containing this material, such as breaks and seals.

Construction workers and electricians

Because asbestos has been widely used in building and ship construction to prevent the spread of fire, anyone who used to work in any construction industry may have been exposed to asbestos. Even newer construction workers and electricians may be exposed when working in older buildings and vessels where asbestos was used.

Demolition and disaster relief workers

Since asbestos was used extensively in building construction, anyone working in demolished buildings carry a high risk of asbestos exposure. When buildings are demolished, the resulting dust may contain high levels of asbestos. This may be the case following a natural disaster such as an earthquake or following the sudden collapse of buildings such as in New York on 9/11/01.

Railroad workers and boiler operators

Asbestos has been used in many pieces of equipment as a heat shield and an insulator. With the extreme heat generated in boilers and train engines, asbestos was considered an ideal material. Unfortunately, many people who worked in those industries have been exposed to asbestos as a result of its use.

Veterans and workers overseas

Many veterans have performed work in many of these areas while asbestos was still widely used. Although many countries now have strict regulations on asbestos usage, several countries where veterans have served lack such regulation and oversight. As a result, veterans and other people who have worked in these regions may be exposed to asbestos under otherwise safe conditions.

If you have worked in any of these occupations, you may be at risk of asbestos exposure. Anyone who has worked in related fields who may have come in contact with raw asbestos minerals, building materials containing asbestos, asbestos insulation or asbestos heat shields is also at risk of asbestos exposure. If you think you may be suffering from an asbestos-related condition, please contact us.

  • Goodman JE, Peterson MK, Bailey LA, Kerper LE, Dodge DG. Electricians’ chrysotile asbestos exposure from electrical products and risks of mesothelioma and lung cancer. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2014; 68(1):8-15.
  • Landrigan PJ, Lioy PJ, Thurston G, et al. Health and environmental consequences of the World Trade Center disaster. Environmental Health Perspectives. 2004; 112(6):731–739.
  • Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. What Is Asbestos? http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/asbestos/more_about_asbestos/what_is_asbestos. Accessed June 22, 2014.

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