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Pipefitters and Mesothelioma

man fixing pipes

Pipefitters are skilled tradespeople who design, install and repair pipe systems. These systems are usually located in large commercial buildings, powerhouses, or manufacturing facilities. To complete a job successfully, pipefitters must know how to build many types of systems that accommodate different kinds of substances. Water, steam, air, gas and human waste are among the commodities that traditionally get transported through various kinds of pipe systems.

Between the 1940s and the 1980s, pipefitters were routinely exposed to asbestos while performing their jobs. This is because asbestos was used for insulating pipes and for sealing materials like gaskets.  In addition, pipefitters connected pipes to and worked on asbestos-containing equipment such as boilers, pumps, valves, and turbines.

How Pipefitters Were Exposed to Asbestos

Pipefitters were vulnerable to breathing in asbestos dust. By working with pipes, they were frequently in close proximity to asbestos fibers from insulation, gaskets, and equipment.

Installing and repairing pipe insulation, cutting and removing gaskets, replacing, packing, and working on pumps and valves all released asbestos into the air.

Are Pipefitters Still At Risk of Exposure to Asbestos?

Asbestos materials are still in place in many facilities.  Pipefitters should wear respiratory protection, use ventilation, and use appropriate asbestos removal companies in performing their work.

By working in cramped areas to fix and maintain older equipment that may have asbestos particles hidden inside, pipefitters can still be exposed.

Why Are Pipefitters Still At Risk of Mesothelioma?

Pipefitters were regularly exposed to asbestos dust for decades in the course of carrying out their daily jobs. Pipefitters who have recently been diagnosed with mesothelioma were exposed years ago. It can take many years for symptoms of mesothelioma to appear. Therefore, many pipefitters do not get diagnosed with mesothelioma until 15 to 60 years after the initial exposure. Signs of the disease can include chest pain, difficulty breathing, coughing and weight loss.