Paper Mills and Asbestos Exposure

There are currently 47,761 paper mill employees in the United States. Given that New England was the Industrial Revolution’s birthplace, many paper mills that originated there are still in operation today, including Schweitzer/Kimberly-Clark Paper Mills, located in Lee, MA. The long history of paper mills in the U.S. also means that hundreds of thousands of American workers have been exposed to asbestos.

Mesothelioma and Paper Mill Workers

Because of the high exposure to asbestos products and other hazardous chemicals and materials, paper mill workers face an increased risk of malignant mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other asbestos-related cancer conditions. The adverse medical effects of asbestos exposure among paper mill workers have been well documented, for example:

  • A Swedish study found an increased risk of asbestos-related cancers among mill workers. These workers developed pleural mesothelioma at more than one and a half times the normal population rate.
  • A study of British Columbian paper mill workers revealed that paper mill workers developed pleural cancers at over two and a half times the normal population rate.
  • A study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine concluded that working environments exposed paper mill employees to various health risks that may have further increased the risk of conditions like lung cancer.

Because the manufacturing paper process requires various steps, including the preparation of raw materials and pulp, bleaching and refining, coating, drying, and cutting and packaging, and delivering finished paper products, asbestos-related exposure is not directly explicitly limited to one job type.

Occupational Exposure for Paper Mill Workers

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics identifies several types of paper mill workers, including:

  • Cutting and slicing machine setters, operators, and tenders
  • Truck and tractor operators
  • Paper goods machine setters, operators, and tenders
  • Printing machine operators
  • First-line supervisors/managers of production and operating workers
  • Industrial production managers

Asbestos Products and Paper Mill Workers

Equipment Maintenance Workers account for a high majority of occupational exposure due to the asbestos products they routinely worked with. However, virtually all paper mill workers were regularly exposed to various asbestos products during their workday. These products included but were not limited to:

  • Insulation
  • Paper mill equipment and materials
  • Building and construction materials

Legal Rights for Paper Mill Workers with Mesothelioma

Paper mill workers diagnosed with mesothelioma are eligible to file personal injury lawsuits against the employers and companies responsible for exposing them to asbestos. This is true, even if the person who was exposed has died. In this case, the family can bring a wrongful death claim on behalf of the mesothelioma patient.

Many factors can impact your claim, including how much you or your family can recover concerning financial compensation. The companies responsible for asbestos exposure spends millions of dollars every year trying to change the law and protect their shareholders, therefore:

  • It is extremely important that you work with an attorney who specialized in asbestos and mesothelioma cases.
  • It is also essential that your attorney can show a long-standing history of success in the states and jurisdictions where your lawsuit will be filed.


Some national firms claim to have hundreds of lawyers dedicated to fighting for their mesothelioma patients. Unfortunately, many clients do not realize that some of these firms are actually “clearing houses” that broker cases to local attorneys. Sometimes, the lawyer who takes the case will not have the experience or resources required to advocate for their client and bring the case to a timely and successful conclusion.

It is also important to understand that it is common practice for personal injury lawyers to offer free consultations. Most personal injury lawyers also offer their services on a contingency fee basis, meaning they do not charge a fee unless they can recover a favorable verdict or settlement on your behalf.

When it comes to handling job site asbestos claims, experience and resources can play a major role in determining the compensation you and your family are entitled to. Before hiring a lawyer, ask them to talk about their:

  • Experience and ability to navigate a complicated asbestos case
  • Access to industry resources and leading experts
  • Reputation within the legal community

A good mesothelioma attorney will set realistic expectations, help you understand your options, and show a history of successful case resolutions. They will also be active and hold leadership roles in both national and local industry associations dedicated to protecting the rights of individuals diagnosed with mesothelioma.

If you are a Schweitzer/Kimberly-Clark Paper Mill employee who has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related cancer, please contact one of our experienced lawyers today.