Even Brief Asbestos Exposure Can Be Dangerous

Asbestos fibers are extremely fine and light enough to be carried in the air. In the course of mining, manufacturing and installing products using asbestos, fibers can dislodge and become airborne. Workers have described mining and factory environments where the air was white with asbestos dust, and their clothes and hair were covered with the fibers. Asbestos workers cannot avoid inhaling the airborne fibers, especially when ventilation is poor and protection is insufficient.

Sources of Asbestos Exposure

Building materials and home products that may contain asbestos include:

  • Carpet underlays
  • Acoustic tiles
  • Acoustic plaster
  • Floor tiles
  • Heat cement
  • Roofing felt
  • Roofing paper
  • Lap seal
  • Limpet spray
  • Artificial fireplaces and materials
  • Firebrick
  • Patching and spackling compounds
  • Pipe and duct insulation
  • Vinyl wallpaper
  • Pipe covering
  • Pipe insulation
  • Joint compounds
  • Fake snow
  • Perlite
  • Corrugated asbestos sheet
  • Troweled coating
  • U.S. Gypsum spray
  • Wire mesh blanket Pot holders and ironing board pads
  • Mineral wool
  • Flame-proof oven mitts
  • Toaster insulation
  • Electrical wire insulation
  • Textured paints
  • Furnaces and furnace door gaskets
  • Gypsum board and sheetrock
  • Gypsum spray
  • Vinyl gypsum adhesive
  • Patching plaster
  • Asbestos cement
  • Furnace cement
  • Weld-on cement
  • One-coat cement
  • Fiber cement
  • Roofing cement
  • High temperature cements
  • Waterproofing
  • Tar paper
  • Mastic adhesives
  • Insulation blankets
  • Insulation board

People who develop asbestos related diseases have usually had regular and perhaps frequent asbestos exposure, either through handling as part of their work, or living or working in a building where asbestos-containing materials have been disturbed by construction or renovation.

Certain kinds of work involve high exposure to asbestos. These include:

  • asbestos mining and milling
  • manufacture of asbestos tiles
  • manufacture of asbestos fabrics
  • shipbuilding trades
  • insulation work in construction
  • electricians
  • plasterers
  • pipe fitters
  • railroad workers
  • manufacture of brake linings
  • building demolition
  • drywall installation
  • drywall removal
  • other asbestos removal
  • firefighting
  • asbestos tile setters
  • boiler workers
  • aluminum plant workers

Ship construction involves many kinds of materials that contain asbestos. Shipyard workers often worked in closed spaces with material that released large quantities of asbestos fibers into the air. In Southern California, the Long Beach Shipyard (also called the US Naval Dry Docks and the Terminal Island Naval Shipyard), the San Diego Naval Shipyard, and NASSCO have employed thousands of workers in the shipbuilding trades, including pipe fitters, boilermakers, electricians, welders, machinists, filers, polishers, sanders, buffers, heat treaters, maintenance workers, engineers, draftsmen, and others.

People who have worked in shipbuilding in any capacity, even for a matter of weeks or months, at any time in their lives, are at increased risk for developing mesothelioma.

They should tell their healthcare providers about their exposure.

Risks to Family Members of Asbestos Workers

Family members of a worker heavily exposed to asbestos are also at risk for illness. They can be exposed to fibers brought into the home on the worker’s hair, clothing, and shoes. Federal and some state laws now require people working with asbestos to take safety measures to prevent the fibers being carried on them. Depending on the nature of their work and their exposure, workers may be required to shower and change their clothes before leaving work, or store their own clothes in a separate part of the workplace, or wash work clothes separately at home.

Risks in Asbestos Removal and Building Demolition

While removing asbestos from homes and workplaces, the asbestos-containing materials are likely to be disturbed in ways that release the fibers into the air, where they can be inhaled. Demolition of a building presents even greater risks of creating airborne asbestos fibers. Removal of asbestos-containing products should be done only by trained professionals who adhere to OSHA safety standards.

Brief Asbestos Exposure

Although the highest risk of developing mesothelioma comes from regular and prolonged exposure to asbestos, some people have developed the disease after only very brief exposure. Asbestos fibers that lodge in lung tissue continue to cause damage as long as they stay there, and mesothelioma grows slowly and silently. Symptoms may not appear for decades after exposure.

Getting Legal Help

If you or a loved one has mesothelioma or another asbestos-caused illness, we can help you take the steps to protect your rights. You can reach our firm at (619) 238-1811.

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