Asbestos in Insulating Blankets Explained
Before the 1980’s, asbestos was also frequently used in fire blankets and other types of more literal insulating blankets and cloth. Insulating blankets help put out fires in the event of an emergency and prevent emergencies from occurring in the first place. Insulating blankets are also used in industrial applications where heat posed a danger.
Insulating blankets are wrapped around pipes, boilers, furnaces, and any other surface that needed flexible insulation that was easy to manipulate. Their use was common in industrial and manufacturing settings, as well as in commercial and residential buildings.
In the past, these insulating blankets were manufactured from asbestos fabric or lined with asbestos because of asbestos naturally heat-resistant, fire-resistant and insulating properties. Asbestos was also cheap and easy to source, making it a popular material in insulating blankets up until the 1980’s.
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Who Was Exposed to Asbestos in Insulating Blankets?
Firefighters, industrial workers, construction workers, shipyard workers and asbestos blanket manufacturers are at the highest risk of being exposed to asbestos in insulating blankets, as these are the people who directly handled the blankets or spent considerable time in areas with insulating blankets.
The more often a person worked or works with asbestos-containing insulation blankets, the higher their risk of developing an asbestos-related disease.
Workers and people at risk of exposure to asbestos in insulating blankets include:
- Insulating blanket manufacturers
- Construction workers
- Industrial workers
- Shipyard workers
- Maintenance workers
- Family members
Unfortunately, anyone who spent significant time in an area where insulating blankets were used, modified, or disturbed, is at risk of asbestos exposure and may develop devastating health issues.
Although asbestos use in insulating blankets was phased out in the 1980’s, the risk remains. Many industrial, commercial and residential sites were built in the era when asbestos insulating blankets were commonly used and, therefore, the blankets are still present in many buildings and homes.
Like any fabric, the materials in asbestos insulation are subject to normal wear and fraying, releasing dangerous asbestos fibers into the air. Asbestos insulation can also be ripped or torn open during renovation or maintenance work, instantly transforming the insulation from a dormant problem into an active one.
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Health Risks of Asbestos in Insulating Blankets
The asbestos in insulating blankets is linked to many potentially deadly health consequences, including:
Though each of these diseases has unique symptoms and health consequences, they all begin with asbestos exposure.
When asbestos fibers become airborne, people nearby may accidentally inhale or ingest asbestos fibers or microscopic particles. These fibers are then carried through the body until they reach the soft lining of the lungs, abdomen or heart, where the javelin-shaped asbestos fibers can become permanently lodged.
Once asbestos fibers get stuck in the body’s lining, they can’t be removed as the body doesn’t have any natural mechanisms for removing particles from the lining. Over time, the lodged asbestos fibers cause biological and chemical reactions that mutate nearby cells. This mutation is known as mesothelioma, an aggressive and deadly form of cancer.
Mesothelioma cells are inherently difficult to treat because of the way they spread through the body. Instead of the lumpy tumors commonly associated with cancer, mesothelioma develops small tumors and nodules, thinly spread across the organ lining. These tumors are incredibly difficult to detect until more severe late-stage symptoms are present. By this point, the prognosis is grim for most patients.
Asbestosis is a permanent lung disease caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibers. When asbestos fibers get inhaled and stuck in the lungs, the lungs become aggravated, and the body tries to heal itself. Lung tissues become stiff and irritated, eventually scarring. The build-up of these scars leads to life-altering symptoms, including shortness of breath, coughing, and difficulty breathing.
Although asbestosis isn’t as deadly as mesothelioma, there is no cure, and it can still be fatal.
Although asbestos exposure is not the only cause of lung cancer, it is one of them. Exposure to asbestos in insulating blankets can cause lung tumors and devastating symptoms. Like mesothelioma, lung cancer is challenging to beat once detected.
Fortunately, new treatment protocols and current clinical trials make the odds of beating lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis better than in the past.
Seeking Justice for Mesothelioma
Asbestos exposure has deadly consequences. Many manufacturers and asbestos companies were aware of this, yet continued to exposure hardworking people and families to their products on a daily basis. The impacts have been devastating. People with mesothelioma deserve justice, and the companies who knowingly destroyed lives have to be held accountable.
If you were exposed to asbestos in insulating blankets or other products during your work and have since developed mesothelioma, contact our Justice Support Team. Call us at (888) 360-4215 or request a FREE Mesothelioma Justice Guide to better understand your next steps in seeking mesothelioma justice.