Did you know that around 3,000 Americans are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year? Mesothelioma is a fatal form of cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos fibers. Many of those affected by the disease are blue collar workers, who are at risk for coming into contact with asbestos on the job.
Some of these occupations occupations include:
Construction Workers: It is not uncommon for construction workers to come into contact with asbestos when working on a home built before the early 1980s. This is because asbestos-containing materials were used within homes for insulation, fireproofing, and even aesthetics. Those that renovate, remodel, and demolish older structures need to take precautionary measures to ensure they are not exposed to the hazardous substance on the job.
Automobile Mechanics: While asbestos-containing products, such as brake linings and pads, are no longer used within vehicles in America, automobile mechanics are still likely to come into contact with the fibers when working on older cars that do contain them. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has released a Safety and Health Information Bulletin for mechanics working around these types of products.
Firefighters: Firefighters are likely to come into contact with asbestos fibers when fighting fires in older homes and structures. While many people think that heat and flame are the most dangerous parts of a house fire, the burning of asbestos-containing materials can release deadly fibers into the air. Firefighters risk breathing in these fibers if they do not use, or remove, the proper equipment when responding to a fire.
Mesothelioma can take anywhere from ten to seventy years to develop in an individual who has been exposed to asbestos. Many workers who have been employed in these occupations before asbestos was declared a hazard to human health are most at risk for a mesothelioma diagnosis today. Workers currently in these occupations are at risk for a mesothelioma risk in their future.
There are many other occupations at risk for mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure at work. See Asbestos Network for a more complete list of workers at high risk for developing a disease.