Heat seals are used to fasten or close a joint with heat. They are frequently used in the construction and automotive industries, where heat seals protect against heat transfer and friction. Until the early 1980s, it was common for heat seals to contain asbestos to improve seals and make them entirely fire and heat proof. Unfortunately, this exposed a lot of people to asbestos, which we now know to be carcinogenic and highly dangerous. If asbestos fibers are inhaled, they can cause a cancer known as mesothelioma.
Asbestos in Heat Seals Explained
Asbestos is a material that is naturally fire and heat resistant, which made it a popular substance to use in a variety of manufacturing industries. That’s why, from the early 1900s, heat seals were often made from asbestos.
The carcinogenic material was cheap to buy and offered incredible strength and durability. It wasn’t until the 1970s when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission became concerned about the health risks of asbestos exposure, particularly in the workplace.
Heat seals could be found in the following areas:
- Engine components
- Car body parts
- Insulation metals
The addition of asbestos on these seals ensured that excessive heat did not erode the part and shorten its lifespan. The heat-proof properties of asbestos meant that parts could be used for longer and offered a better value for money. Regrettably, this ‘value’ did not extend to the health of those working with the toxic substance.
Free Mesothelioma Justice Guide
Exposure to asbestos products like heat seals 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 Heat Seals?
Asbestos-containing heat seals were used in a wide variety of industries, but once the true dangers of the material became known, asbestos use declined. The primary industry of concern is the automotive industry, as heat seals were frequently used to protect heat transfer in engine and body parts.
Newer cars are unlikely to contain asbestos. Modern heat seals now use asbestos-free substitutes to protect against friction, which are much safer.
Asbestos Risk in Vintage Cars
Many vintage vehicles (or even cars from abroad) may contain multiple parts with asbestos-seals. Mechanics and those who worked around car parts would have been most at risk, as they likely came into contact with asbestos heat-seals when repairing cars or restoring parts.
Unfortunately, being around asbestos on a regular basis was not only dangerous for the workers themselves, but also their friends and family. Tiny fibers of asbestos would cling to their clothes, bringing pieces of the asbestos home on their clothes, shoes and hair, putting family members at risk as well.
Today, vintage car restorers are among the most at risk of coming into contact with asbestos-containing heat seals while repairing parts. Heat seals may have to be reheated and broken to fix a part, which would break up the asbestos fibers and force them into the air. To limit exposure, face masks and protective clothing should be worn in these circumstances.
Health Risks of Asbestos in Heat Seals
Asbestos is made up of microscopic fibers that are hundreds of times smaller than a human hair. These fibers don’t pose a threat when they remain intact, but as asbestos products age, they become weak and friable.
From Asbestos Exposure to Mesothelioma
Over time, these tiny fibers become airborne and can easily be inhaled. Once in the body, the particles pierce the lining of the organs and become embedded. Eventually, embedded fibers may cause healthy cells to mutate into cancerous mesothelioma cells, which grow into tumor masses.
It can take up to 50 years for a patient to experience mesothelioma symptoms and most cases are diagnosed at a later stage. Patients with mesothelioma require a personalized treatment plan involving multiple therapy approaches to help improve prognosis.
Access Asbestos Trust Funds
Compensation for treatment, loss of income and other damages is available through Asbestos Trust Funds. Patients with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses may qualify.
Seeking Justice for Asbestos Exposure
Asbestos was widely used in products that required friction as it served as a protective barrier against heat. Unfortunately, it also put a lot of workers in danger. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and believe that you have come into contact with the material through heat seals at work, please seek the advice of a mesothelioma lawyer.
For more information on how you may have been exposed to asbestos in heat seals, contact our Justice Support Team today. Call us at (888) 360-4215 or request a FREE Mesothelioma Justice Guide to better understand the next steps in seeking justice.