Asbestos in Turbines Exposure and Risks

Summary

Asbestos was used to minimize the massive amounts of heat created by turbines during energy generation. Unfortunately, people who worked closely with turbines weren’t always aware of the asbestos content in the turbines—or the deadly impact asbestos can have on their health.

Asbestos in Turbines Explained

Turbine engines extract energy from circulating fluid, like water or air. This energy is then used to power machinery, homes and buildings. Turbines spin up to 500,000 revolutions per minute, generating extreme heat. The surrounding area and people who work near the turbines need to be protected from this heat. At one time, asbestos shielding was used for turbine heat protection.

Asbestos is naturally heatproof and fireproof, which made it a common ingredient in many types of heat protection. With asbestos shielding, large blankets of asbestos were wrapped around the internal components of the turbine, often tucked against the metal casing. These blankets helped damper the heat generated by the turbines, preventing it from impacting the outside environment.

General Electric Used Asbestos Shielding

As one example, General Electric began insulating their power plant turbines with an asbestos coating in 1966. General Electric was a significant turbine supplier, and those asbestos-shielded turbines were installed in 22,000 locations in the United States.

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Who Was Exposed to Asbestos in Turbines?

Today, people who work around asbestos accept that risk and wear special clothing and filters to safeguard themselves from inhaling the fibers. But in the past, employees working around turbine engines were not informed of the presence of a hazardous material, even though the equipment manufacturers and sometimes employers were in full knowledge of the health risks.

As a result, many people may have been exposed to asbestos in turbines, including:

  • Turbine manufacturing workers
  • Power plant workers
  • Engine room workers
  • Turbine mechanics and engineers
  • Supervisors and managers

Asbestos fibers can also cling to clothing and fabrics and become transported to new locations. Consequently, family members and close friends of workers in frequent contact with asbestos are also at risk of asbestos exposure.

Access Asbestos Trust Funds

Compensation for treatment, loss of income and other damages are available through Asbestos Trust Funds. Mesothelioma patients exposed to asbestos in turbines may qualify.

Find Out If You Qualify

Health Risks of Asbestos in Turbines

Asbestos is a dangerous material with potentially deadly consequences. In the 1970s, medical scientists discovered a definitive link between asbestos exposure and a type of cancer called mesothelioma. Over time, our understanding of asbestos exposure has improved, and we now know that asbestos can also cause lung cancer, asbestosis and other illnesses.

Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is an unforgiving form of cancer with a high mortality rate. Because mesothelioma is difficult to diagnose, patients who are diagnosed with mesothelioma are typically in Stage 3 and 4 of the disease, when it is harder to defeat.

Mesothelioma develops when asbestos fibers are accidentally inhaled or ingested and become embedded in the soft lining of the abdomen, heart or lungs. Over long periods of time, these asbestos fibers can trigger a mutation that changes normal, healthy cells into mesothelioma cells. These mesothelioma cells then spread across the body’s lining, resulting in a thin layer of cancer cells, with small nodules.

Mesothelioma Can Form Decades After Asbestos Exposure

It can take up to 50 years for an inhaled asbestos to cause mesothelioma, which means people can work in unsafe environments for decades without seeing the negative impacts. Many employees are long retired before they are diagnosed with mesothelioma and realize they were exposed to asbestos.

Lung Cancer

Similar to mesothelioma, lung cancer also develops after asbestos fibers are ingested or inhaled. However, instead of growing in a thin layer, lung cancer tends to form as lumpy tumors. Patients with lung cancer have a better prognosis than those with mesothelioma, but lung cancer can be just as deadly.

Asbestosis

Asbestosis is a disease named after asbestos itself, as it only occurs in individuals who have had substantial asbestos exposure. Asbestosis occurs when asbestos fibers irritate and inflame the lungs, causing damage and scarring over the long term. This scarring can make it impossible for the lungs to operate correctly, which leads to respiratory challenges and can result in death.

Seeking Justice for Mesothelioma

Many people have developed mesothelioma and other medical issues after their exposure to asbestos in turbines and other asbestos-containing products. Manufacturers and many employers were aware of the health risks when they put people at risk of these diseases.

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and have a history of working with asbestos in turbines, contact our Justice Support Team at (888) 360-4215. Or request our FREE Mesothelioma Justice Guide to better understand the occupations, worksites and products that may have exposed you to asbestos.

View Author and Sources
Sources
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Last modified: October 30, 2018