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Mesothelioma and Asbestos Exposure

Mesothelioma

Proven Mesothelioma Experience. Compassionate Representation for Your Family.

As one of the nation’s leading mesothelioma law firms, Shepard Law has a proven track record. With special expertise handling major asbestos claims that involve mesothelioma or lung cancer, we commit the full resources of our firm to every case we take.

We believe that every injured person deserves caring, compassionate, and capable representation. At Shepard Law, our attorneys take the time to learn about each client and their situation in order to provide them with the best possible result.

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Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos is a naturally occurring group of minerals that contain strong and flexible fibers. Because it is a poor conductor of heat and electricity, asbestos was used as a multipurpose material used in a number of building, manufacturing, and commercial applications.

The qualities that make asbestos a highly desirable material also make it deadly. When disturbed, asbestos fibers turn into microscopic airborne dust particles. These particles/fibers can linger in the air for hours or days and can attach to clothing or work instruments. If inhaled, they can cause serious health problems. Asbestos exposure has been known to cause a number of cancers, the most notable being mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that normally attacks the lungs and abdomen. Here is a partial list of occupations that are likely to have caused asbestos exposure.

The Military and Asbestos

Many Americans diagnosed with mesothelioma were first exposed to asbestos during their time in the military. Because asbestos was so common in the military, it is important to have a knowledgeable and experienced law firm on your side when pursuing a veteran’s mesothelioma lawsuit.

The lawyers at Shepard Law have helped hundreds of clients, many of whom were veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma. Military veterans who were exposed to asbestos during their service but did not become sick until years later may have the right to file a mesothelioma lawsuit.

Navy Veterans and Asbestos

It has been reported that more than 30 percent of Americans now dealing with mesothelioma were first exposed to asbestos while serving in the military. While veterans from all branches of the military have battled this disease, Navy veterans account for an unusually high number of mesothelioma victims.

The reason is because, until as recently as the mid-1970s, nearly every ship and shipyard built by the United States Navy was constructed with asbestos materials. The use of asbestos was mandated by all branches of the military, and was especially popular with the Navy for its heat-resistance capabilities, since seagoing vessels and submarines contained engines and boiler rooms and other below-deck areas that generated great amounts of heat.

And while asbestos was used in great quantities in these dangerous below-deck areas, it was also used in everything from mess halls to sleeping quarters. The Navy used more than 300 products that contained asbestos between 1940 and the 1970s, including: adhesives, boilers, cables, deck coverings, grinders, pipe coverings, tubes, and valves.

Whether operating above deck or below deck, Navy men and women suffered from asbestos exposure every day. While asbestos has not been used heavily in military ships since the mid-1970s, many of the older ships constructed with asbestos continued to operate for decades. Statistics show that Navy veterans and shipyard employees who worked between the 1930s and the 1970s have a greater chance of developing asbestos-related diseases, but all veterans are at an increased risk for mesothelioma and asbestosis.

At Shepard Law, we have been working with Navy veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma for over nearly 20 years. The lawyers at Shepard Law are dedicated to working with Navy veterans who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma. We are familiar with the laws specific to military veterans, and we use our experience to fight for their rights every day.

If you are a Navy veteran battling mesothelioma, please contact us today for a free case consultation.

Paper Mills and Asbestos

Massachusetts has a proud tradition of paper-making; there was a time that Holyoke was the world’s largest center for papermaking. Generations of families worked at local paper mills and many communities were erected to support the mills. Working in a paper mill was grueling as mills were generally hot, dusty, and demanding. Making things worse was the fact that many paper mills also utilized asbestos in the paper they processed and in their facilities. A person working in a paper mill could have been exposed to asbestos from:

  • Asbestos used in the paper: We know that many specialty papers utilized asbestos as an ingredient of the paper. The asbestos would be added into the pulp and anyone in the vicinity while the asbestos was being poured into the pulper or who came into contact with the raw asbestos would certainly have been exposed to asbestos fibers. Likewise, anyone who either slit the asbestos-containing paper or was in the vicinity when the paper was being slit would have been exposed to asbestos fibers.
  • Asbestos-containing insulation: Paper mills were generally older buildings and utilized steam to heat the facility and to run the paper-making equipment. Millwrights, welders, insulators, and pipefitters may have come into contact with asbestos-containing pipe insulation while performing their duties. Disturbing or replacing the insulation would have exposed a worker to asbestos fibers from that insulation.
  • Asbestos-containing dryer felts: Depending on the type of paper being made at the paper mill, asbestos-containing dryer felts may have been utilized on the paper machine. Cutting the dryer felts, changing the dryer felts or disturbing the dryer felts in any manner may have caused exposure to respirable asbestos fibers.
  • Asbestos-containing component parts: A paper machine and its componentry are just some of the equipment in a paper mill. There are many other types of equipment such as pumps, valves, and steam traps that are needed for the paper mill to run. Millwrights and maintenance mechanics are routinely exposed to asbestos from asbestos-containing packing and gaskets utilized in the pumps and valves in the mill.

If you are a paper mill worker battling mesothelioma, please contact us today for a free case consultation.

The Aircraft Industry and Asbestos

Aircraft mechanics are indispensable to our country’s military and commercial aircraft industries. Whether serving onboard a Navy carrier, or working at an Air Force Base, airport, or manufacturing facility, an aircraft mechanic’s work environment may have subjected him or her to significant asbestos exposure. Spending most of their time in shops and hangers, mechanics often worked next to other tradesmen as they maintained and repaired equipment containing hazardous asbestos materials.

Mechanics who were involved in the repair and overhaul of aircraft between the 1930s and 1990s were at risk of exposure to dangerous asbestos materials, and consequently, terrible diseases such as lung cancer and mesothelioma.

The replacement of asbestos-containing brake pads was a particularly dusty, hazardous, and all too common duty of these mechanics. They would also handle asbestos-containing packing and gaskets in engines and other parts of the aircraft. Further tasks associated with asbestos exposure risk include the installation of insulation around engines and electrical components.

The risk of asbestos exposure for today’s mechanics is minimal, but may be a concern if the aircraft in need of repair was manufactured before the 1990s and still contains asbestos products.

Auto Mechanics and Asbestos

Working in an auto shop can pose significant occupational hazards for auto mechanics, even today. Prior to the 1970s, asbestos was the main insulation material used in common replacement parts such as brakes, gaskets, and transmission parts for both cars and truck because of its low cost, excellent friction, and fire-resistant properties. Asbestos was regularly used by clutch and brake manufacturers who supplied dangerous materials directly to major auto plants, aftermarket distributors, and small repair shops. These products are known to release short chrysotile asbestos fibers during the installation, repair and replacement of brake systems, linking auto mechanics and asbestos exposure.

Despite repeated warnings in the 1970s by scientists, industrial hygienists, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and other government officials about the dangers between auto mechanics and asbestos exposure, many auto part manufacturers continued to incorporate asbestos into their products – knowingly putting mechanics and other customers at risk. Some of the most common automotive products still containing asbestos today include:

  • Brake pads
  • Brake linings
  • Clutch facings
  • Gaskets

Since then, asbestos usage in these parts has been closely regulated but still exists in older cars and trucks. Many modern day mechanics do not understand that they face the risk of exposure every day. Second hand exposure may also be a risk for other employees that do not work on cars or trucks.

Plumbers and Asbestos

From the 1940s to the 1980s, plumbers were frequently exposed to asbestos on the job from widely used products such as insulation, pipe block, pipe coating, cement insulation, and gaskets. Because they often worked in close, cramped spaces without protective gear, plumbers often inhaled asbestos particles as they cut asbestos paper, sawed, soldered and joined pipes or sanded down block insulation. Other common activities that potentially caused exposure include but are not limited to:

  • Cutting into older pipelines with hot tap machines
  • Stripping old asbestos cement pipe from corroded water and sewer lines
  • Cutting and installing new pipes in an area of a house or community building, and disturbing asbestos fibers used in the products’ insulation
  • Working with thick asbestos insulation and refractory materials used to protect boiler fireboxes
  • Maintenance and removal of boilers, that contained asbestos-laced rope gaskets

Asbestos products commonly used throughout plumbing and piping systems in residential, commercial and industrial sites include:

  • Insulating cement
  • Pipe covering
  • Block insulation
  • Packing
  • Pumps
  • Valves
  • Gaskets

Boilermakers and Asbestos

Starting in the 1920’s, boiler manufacturing companies used asbestos because of its fire-resistant qualities as the main heat-insulation medium of industrial and residential boilers. Many boilers contained thick slabs of asbestos-lined “block” insulation in boiler fire boxes or around the furnace walls and tube banks. Pipes were wrapped with asbestos blankets, floors and walls were also blanketed to ensure heat and fire resistance, and joints and doors were sealed with asbestos gaskets.

The extensive use of asbestos, especially in older boiler systems, makes the occupation a particularly high-risk job for asbestos exposure even in the 21st century. There still remain thousands of boilers around the country – many built half a century ago – that remain contaminated with asbestos.

The risk of exposure was particularly high for boilermakers because their job often required them to hammer and file rough areas on the edges of the boilers that contained asbestos. This process caused asbestos fibers to get into the air. Because they worked in tight spaces with inadequate ventilation, boilermakers were even more at risk for developing an asbestos-related illness.

Asbestos was also used to make the following boiler components:

  • Gaskets
  • Hand holes
  • Packing
  • Heat jackets
  • Furnace cements
  • Sealants and tapes used in the joints between pipes

Pipefitters and Asbestos

Pipefitters were most frequently exposed to asbestos between the 1940s and the 1980s in performing their day to day tasks. Asbestos during that time was a preferred material for insulating pipes because of its superior resistance to heat and friction. Refineries were a common work site where pipefitters could have experienced a high level of asbestos exposure. These plants contain many furnaces, reactor units, heat exchangers, tanks, boilers and cooling towers – all connected by a network of pipelines, valves, wires, ducts, and pumps. For years, these structures were treated with high temperature resistant asbestos insulation, gaskets, packing material and other asbestos-building products.

There are many asbestos products that pipefitters worked with that had to be cut and/or sanded down to meet size specifications for a particular project. Asbestos paper for example, needed to be cut to size and insulation blocks and fillers had to be sanded to fit a particular application. As a result, much asbestos dust was released into the air and a pipe fitter could breathe in fibers if he/she did not wear protective gear. Gaskets were also frequently used in the trade and those were also made of asbestos. Because gaskets need to be perfectly fitted they would need to be ground or sanded to proper size. This again created a hazardous asbestos dust laden environment for pipe fitters to work in.

The Construction Industry and Asbestos

Buildings constructed between 1920 and 1980 are the most likely to contain asbestos materials. Construction occupations such as flooring installers, roofers, plumbers, pipefitters, insulators, electricians, boilermakers, carpenters, and welders who helped in the construction of these buildings during this time were potentially exposed to many commonly used products such as:

  • Vinyl flooring
  • Insulation
  • Plaster
  • Stucco
  • Roofing shingles
  • Cement
  • Piping

Construction workers who built structures during the years when asbestos-containing materials use were at their height are most at risk for mesothelioma. Because of the long latency period associated with the disease, workers who had asbestos exposure decades ago are now experiencing mesothelioma symptoms.

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