Asbestos Exposure in Texas
Asbestos Exposure at Job Sites in Texas
Texas is number two among U.S. states in terms of area and population. It is, however, number one in the domestic oil industry, one of the three most dangerous industrial occupations in terms of asbestos exposure.
In fact, oil industry workers are among those at greatest risk of asbestos diseases such as asbestosis or one of the forms of asbestos cancer, such as mesothelioma or lung cancer, according to the Agency of Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Additionally, a 2003 U.K. study of 45,000 workers employed by the oil industry for a period of at least one year between 1946 and 1971 found that those who worked in the refineries suffered from "significantly elevated" rates of malignant mesothelioma and other cancers when compared to those employed in delivery and distribution jobs.
BP Amoco, Chevron, Citgo, Esso, Exxon, Fina, Gulf, Mobil and Shell are some of the major corporations that own and operate oil refineries where workers claim to have contracted mesothelioma.
Asbestos Exposure at BP’s Texas City Refinery
Asbestos-containing products were commonly used as insulation prior to 1980. In fact, asbestos insulation was often employed to protect the distillation columns, pipes and conduits in oil refineries, as well as work surfaces and gaskets that were used in the assembly of various pieces of equipment. However, asbestos insulation can become brittle; over time it may start to crumble and release fibers into the air. Such a situation occurred when Hurricane Rita touched down near Houston in 2005. BP acknowledged that the hurricane’s winds caused "significant wind damage" to the insulation of the company’s Texas City refinery, possibly spreading asbestos fibers from the plant's extensive steam system across the region.
As a result, individuals who lived or worked near the Texas City refinery after its brush with Hurricane Rita are advised to be checked regularly for signs of mesothelioma.
Other Texas Job Sites and Asbestos Exposure
Shipyards, power plants, and chemical plants also make up a substantial part of the Texas economy, and all three are known to be industries in which occupational exposure to asbestos constitutes a serious hazard.
Power plants especially have been shown to be dangerous to workers' respiratory health. Asbestos is an excellent electrical insulator. It was used in electrical conduits, wiring, and electrical cloth as well as the electrical machinery itself—turbines, generators, and similar components.
From the mid 1930s until the early 1980s, asbestos insulation was used extensively in the construction of sea-going vessels. Asbestos insulation could be found around pipes and other steam fittings, and it was used in fireproof doors as well as between decks as a noise deadener. The National Cancer Institute confirmed the danger faced by shipyard employees in a study of 4,700 people who worked at a Coast Guard facility. The research showed that these workers faced a "small but significant excess mortality" from lung cancer and mesothelioma.
While many of these sites have taken steps to keep their employees and visitors safe since the problem was discovered, people who worked in or visited these areas in the past may still have been exposed to asbestos. Individuals who lived or worked near these areas or other known asbestos exposure sites in Texas should be checked regularly for signs of mesothelioma and should contact a Texas mesothelioma lawyer as soon as possible after a diagnosis in order to file any lawsuits within the state's statute of limitations.
Suit Alleges On-the Job Asbestos Exposure
Consider the asbestos-related lawsuit filed by an ailing Galveston man who spent his entire career as a laborer and is now suing some 50 companies—including Union Carbide Co., BP Amoco Chemical Co., Marathon Oil Co., Ingersoll-Rand Co., and A.W. Chesterton—that he claims exposed him to asbestos.
Michael Ray Cook worked for decades in various shipyards, refineries, steel mills, paper mills, and military facilities in Texas and around the country, according to The Southeast Texas Record. The lawsuit filed by Cook and his wife claims he inhaled "great quantities of asbestos fibers" during his work assignments.
The suit alleges that Cook’s exposure to asbestos fibers throughout his career has resulted in an undisclosed asbestos-related disease. Cook is claiming that it was the “failure to warn” by the 50 defendants that put his life at risk. Failure to warn is often cited as the basis of many mesothelioma lawsuits because of the overwhelming evidence that asbestos companies knew about the health risks associated with asbestos, but did nothing to warn their workers or those who used their products.
Cook’s case is a cautionary tale for Texans who may also have been exposed to asbestos while laboring in the state’s oil, power, shipyard, and other heavy industries.
Naturally Occurring Asbestos Exposure in Texas
Aside from industrial exposures, Texas also has some naturally-occurring serpentine deposits in the area of the Government Canyon State Natural Area northwest of San Antonio. Serpentine is the source of chrysotile asbestos, which made up 95% of the asbestos used in industrial applications.