To this day, many products in the United States contain asbestos. Expansion joints are just some of the products that are known to contain asbestos. Although expansion joints have been developed to become safer in recent years, for those who worked with them in the 20th century, the health risk may have already taken its toll.
Determining where exactly asbestos exposure occurred can be a complex process, especially for those who worked in industrial fields during the 20th century.
If you’ve decided to claim compensation after developing mesothelioma from asbestos or you are filing an asbestos lawsuit, finding out exactly how you were exposed is critical to being awarded legal compensation.
Asbestos in Expansion Joints Explained
Expansion joints are crucial to contemporary engineering. These parts are used as mid-structure separation pieces in construction. They absorb stress placed on buildings when building movement is likely. Some factors that may cause these buildings to move include temperature-based expansion and contraction, weather and earthquakes.
By their nature, expansion joints require a range of elastomers, fluoroplastics, and other fibers in their construction. Unfortunately, expansion joints can also contain asbestos—this was common in early expansion joints and is less likely today.
Asbestos was used in the expansion joints to provide an insulative or heat-resistant layer, particularly in fabric-based expansion joints which were used in ducting systems. It was also found in the tapes and cords used as filling material in the expansion joints.
Asbestos was also highly useful in expansion belts that had a fabric-like consistency. These belts had a bottom layer that was vulcanized to create a heat shield. The heat shield augmented the asbestos’ ability to resist heat and allowed the joint to last longer.
Expansion joints may not seem common or well-known, but they are used in a variety of applications in engineering and construction. They can be found in the following places:
- Rail tracks
- Pipe systems and ducts
Expansion joints are central to the construction of the buildings they are used in. Expansion joints intersect throughout the entire building, including the structural slab, the membrane and the bricks. It involves an interdependent system, making removal of existing asbestos expansion joints extremely difficult.
Free Mesothelioma Justice Guide
Exposure to asbestos has led to thousands of mesothelioma diagnoses. If you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, the Mesothelioma Justice Guide will help you understand your rights and know the next steps.
Who Was Exposed to Asbestos in Expansion Joints?
Workers who manufactured expansion joints or installed them during construction would have encountered frequent exposure to asbestos. These employees worked in atmospheres where asbestos was handled without proper protection and where asbestos fibers could have become airborne.
Some of the high-risk occupations for exposure to asbestos in expansion joints include:
- Brick and stone masons
- Construction workers
- Mechanical engineers
- Pipefitters and plumbers
- Railroad workers
Secondary exposure also occurred between workers in high-risk exposure categories and their family, friends and co-workers. Asbestos exposure from expansion joints could unknowingly put others at risk of inhaling and ingesting asbestos when fibers become airborne or attach themselves to clothing and equipment.
Health Risks of Asbestos in Expansion Joints
Once airborne asbestos fibers are ingested, they can become lodged in the body’s soft tissues covering the lungs, heart and abdomen. Stuck fibers can cause genetic damage over time and result in workers developing mesothelioma tumors.
Mesothelioma can take 10-50 years before it produces symptoms. By the time doctors diagnose mesothelioma, it’s typically advanced into the late stages where fewer treatment options are available.
Those who were exposed to asbestos while making expansion joints could also develop other asbestos-related illness, such as asbestosis.
Access Asbestos Trust Funds
Compensation for treatment, loss of income and other damages is available through Asbestos Trust Funds. Workers with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses may qualify.
Seeking Justice for Asbestos Exposure
Workers who were unknowingly exposed to asbestos in expansion joints and have since developed mesothelioma are victims of negligence by asbestos product manufacturers. While mesothelioma has limited treatment options, there are important therapies that can improve prognosis and potentially extend life expectancy.
Compensation to cover treatment costs and other damages may be available to you and your family if you’ve been wrongly exposed.
For more information on asbestos in expansion joints and how it may have led to your mesothelioma diagnosis, contact the Justice Support team today. Call us at (888) 360-4215 or request our FREE Mesothelioma Justice Guide to understand your next steps as a mesothelioma victim.