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Occupations Exposed to Asbestos

Working with Asbestos

With an estimated 5,000 products that contain asbestos, asbestos is present in buildings, cars, factories, ships and houses. It is commonly accepted that asbestos exposure causes mesothelioma and lung cancer.

While some, but not all, uses for asbestos were banned in the mid-1970’s, the risk from exposure continues today due to mesothelioma’s long latency (inactive) period of anywhere between 15 to 60 years. Today, asbestos continues to be a threat to workers exposed through their occupations, and in buildings and homes.

Asbestos fibers are so toxic, that industrial and trade worker’s families may be exposed to mesothelioma through particles that cling to the worker’s clothing, shoes, skin and hair. This type of “second-hand” exposure to asbestos is known as para-occupational exposure.

Workers in the following occupations have a risk for asbestos exposure:

9/11 Workers

Firefighters, police, and EMTs are routinely called to help after catastrophic incidents that damage or destroy buildings. Since many existing buildings were constructed with asbestos-containing materials and equipment, rescue workers often become exposed to hazards that extend beyond the actual… Keep Reading

Aircraft Mechanics

man fixing airplane

Aircraft mechanics repair and overhaul airplane engines, airframes, hydraulic systems, and other mechanical systems to keep planes running safely and efficiently.  They work in hangars, in repair shops and on the flight line. They perform regular maintenance on airplanes and… Keep Reading

Boilermakers

man welding boiler

Boilermakers and boilermaker mechanics are at risk of developing mesothelioma and other asbestos disease through exposure to airborne asbestos fibers. Boilers are designed to operate for decades and asbestos was used extensively as thermal insulation around boilers for much of… Keep Reading

Bricklayers

brick layer working

Bricklayers are among the skilled craftsmen at risk of developing mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos on the job. Mesothelioma is an incurable cancer of the lining of the lungs caused by inhaling asbestos dust. Before the 1980s, asbestos was often… Keep Reading

Carpenters

carpenter

Many carpenters are at risk of acquiring mesothelioma because of exposure to asbestos as many building products such as ceiling tiles, wallboards, fire doors, caulks and joint compounds contained asbestos over the past century.  Carpenters’ worksites had little or no… Keep Reading

Cement Finishers

Cement mixer machines

Cement finishers who mixed, spread and polished concrete routinely inhaled asbestos fibers that were released into the air – which increased their risk of developing mesothelioma. Asbestos was commonly used in cement and concrete products over the past century to… Keep Reading

Crane Operators

tall cranes in construction site

Crane operators are employed in commercial construction and demolition, iron and steel mills, mining, power generation, highway and bridge construction, industrial shipyards, railroad transportation and maritime transportation. Crane operators may operate an overhead crane that has a hook and line… Keep Reading

Electricians

electrician working on motor

Electricians are among the workers at risk of exposure to asbestos on the job. Electricians are most likely to encounter asbestos during expansion, remodeling and rewiring of older buildings and maintenance work on electrical systems in older buildings. Inhaling airborne… Keep Reading

Engineers

Engineers looking at plans

Engineers use the principles of mathematics and science to design and develop new products and solve technical problems. There are more than a dozen different kinds of engineers. Some engineers specialize in a particular industry.  For example, marine engineers are… Keep Reading

Firefighters

New York firefighters are ready at a moment’s notice to save lives even if it involves risking your own.But you shouldn’t have your health harmed by a preventable hazard – like deadly asbestos fibers. Federal work safety researchers are currently… Keep Reading

Foundry Workers

Foundry worker in boiler

Foundry workers are among the professionals that worked with factory machinery that often contained asbestos, and the factory itself may have used asbestos to insulate pipes and other areas from fire hazards. Asbestos was commonly used in the metal industry… Keep Reading

Laborers

two laborers high in a building

Laborers in New York are among the professionals who may have breathed toxic asbestos dust on the job — and that is a danger about which your employer should have warned you. Asbestos is the known cause of mesothelioma, an… Keep Reading

Lathers

Lathers are at elevated risk of mesothelioma because their work with ceiling tiles, wall plaster, walls frameworks and duct work may expose them to breathing asbestos dust. Asbestos was used in many building materials in older construction, and asbestos fibers… Keep Reading

Machinists

machinists working

Machinists fabricate metal parts and equipment — including industrial valves, pumps, piping systems, parts for ships and railroad and various types of machines — to exacting specifications. For decades, many replacement parts and equipment had asbestos insulation, asbestos-containing gaskets and… Keep Reading

Mechanics

Asbestos was commonly used in the automotive industry for products such as brake pads, clutch facings and gaskets.  Bonding materials also contained asbestos.  In fact, millions of these items remain in vehicles on the road today. Plus, some brakes and… Keep Reading

Merchant Marine Seaman

seaman working

Merchant marine seamen are at risk of developing mesothelioma, a cancer related to inhaling asbestos particles, because asbestos was widely used in the construction of ships until the late 1970s. The longer a merchant marine seaman, mariner or sailor served… Keep Reading

Millwrights

Millwrights and other metal-related trade workers, are at risk of developing mesothelioma because of the former widespread use of asbestos as insulation in industrial machinery and equipment. Many industrial workplaces are likely to have airborne asbestos dust. Breathing microscopic particles… Keep Reading

Navy Yard Workers/Yardbirds

Ship being repaired

Naval yard workers are at higher risk of developing certain kinds of respiratory-related diseases such as mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos, commonly used inside U.S. Navy ships. Civilian shipyard workers, known as yardbirds, were exposed to large doses of asbestos Keep Reading

Painters

Painters frequently work in older buildings undergoing renovation and remodeling. Many of these buildings contain asbestos.  Remodeling and renovation activities can disturb asbestos insulation and other asbestos-containing materials and release asbestos dust into the air. Inhaling airborne asbestos dust can… Keep Reading

Paper Mill Workers

Worker at Paper Mill

Pulp and paper workers have long been exposed to a mixture of hazardous substances during the production of paper. The hazardous substances include asbestos, a carcinogen that causes a respiratory cancer known as mesothelioma. Asbestos is a mineral fiber that… Keep Reading

Pipe Coverers

Pipe coverers fabricate and fit blankets of insulation including asbestos-containing material around boilers, tanks, pipes, refrigerators and boilers. The purpose of insulating pipes is to reduce loss of heat and prevent moisture condensation. The job of cutting asbestos sheets, wrapping… Keep Reading

PipeFitters

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… Keep Reading

Plasterers

man applying plaster on wall

Plasterers might have been exposed to asbestos as many building materials, including plasters, joint compounds, construction mastics, wall treatments, plastic patching compounds, sealants and textured paints and coatings, contain asbestos in varying concentrations. The asbestos may be released into the… Keep Reading

Plumbers

Plumbers are skilled tradesmen who work on site in construction and maintenance to install pipework using materials such as copper, brass, earthenware, plastics, and galvanised iron by soldering or welding. Plumbers use saws, pipe bending machines, pipe cutters, and video… Keep Reading

Sheetmetal workers

Sheetmetal workers might have been exposed to asbestos 20 to 40 years ago and only recently received a diagnosis of mesothelioma. You may be a retired sheet metal worker recently diagnosed with asbestos-related disease. Mesothelioma takes decades to appear after… Keep Reading

Welders

welders at a factory

Welders join pieces of metal by heat and pressure. The smoke from welding and hot work consists of gases and very fine particles, including asbestos fibers.  An estimated 500,000 welders are employed in a number of industries, such as shipbuilding,… Keep Reading

Learn more about asbestos exposure by learning which products contained this mineral. Here is a partial list of asbestos containing products.