Asbestos in Welding Blankets Exposure and Risks

Summary

Welding blankets, gloves and aprons were often made from asbestos cloth and lined with additional asbestos to protect workers around high temperatures and open flames. These protective garments were prone to normal wear and tear. Rips in the fabric would release millions of microscopic asbestos fibers into the air, putting welders and those in the general vicinity at risk of developing mesothelioma.

Asbestos in Welding Blankets Explained

Welders typically work in very hot environments, and they understandably need protective clothing and equipment to prevent burns. Before the 1980s, many pieces of protective clothing were produced using asbestos—a cheap and durable material with fire and heat retardant properties.

Welding blankets were provided to protect workers. To make them fire-resistant, asbestos was woven into the textile. Welding blankets were designed to be wrapped around an object (such as a hot pipe or engine) or hung around a furnace as a heat-proof curtain. The purpose of a welding blanket was to protect people from fire, smother fires or for fire emergencies.

Unfortunately, frequently using these welding blankets could also cause the asbestos fibers to become brittle and break off. The fibers in the air could be inhaled and cause mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases.

Welding Blankets Exposed Welders to Asbestos

While welding blankets today are made of safer fabrics such as silica cloth, many welders who worked in these environments from 1930-1980 may have been unknowingly exposed to asbestos and could be at risk of developing mesothelioma.

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Who Was Exposed to Asbestos in Welding Blankets?

Welders often worked around asbestos-coated surfaces and equipment, such as boilers, pipes, welding rods and more. During the welding process, dust and smoke were produced by the welding rod, emitting friable pieces of asbestos into the air. While most welders wore a welding mask, it wouldn’t have protected them from the needle-like particles of airborne asbestos.

Welders who wore protecting clothing were almost at more risk of health problems due to the fact that the majority of their protecting clothing was also made from asbestos. Welding blankets were used daily to ward off high temperatures and flames. Once these became old and more brittle, it would again put the welders at risk of breathing in the dangerous fibers.

Welders work across several industries—all of which used welding blankets as a way to put out fires or protect themselves from heat. These include industries such as:

While most welders would not have gone home in the clothes they worked in, these tiny asbestos fibers could also cling onto shoes and hair. This put their family at risk of developing mesothelioma by carrying these particles into the home.

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

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Health Risks of Asbestos in Welding Blankets

Asbestos is not dangerous until it becomes dry and brittle. As welding blankets were frequently bent, folded and crushed against a variety of surfaces, the asbestos fibers would break up faster than most.

Once asbestos fibers are in the air, they can easily be inhaled and puncture the lining of the lungs, heart or abdomen. Over time, trapped asbestos fibers can irritate the organ linings, triggering cancerous mesothelioma mutations in healthy cells. As healthy cells transform into mesothelioma cells, they multiply and spread to distant sites.

Other health threats posed by asbestos-containing welding blankets include:

Welding is a High-Risk Occupation for Asbestos Exposure

A 1999-2010 study in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine recognized welding as one of the highest-risk occupations for asbestos exposure and, therefore, mesothelioma. The findings were based on their workplace exposure to asbestos, with welding blankets being one of the products that could put workers at harm.

Seeking Justice for Mesothelioma

Most asbestos products in the welding industry were phased out during the 1980s when the real harm of asbestos came to light. However, those who worked with welding blankets before 1980 may have been exposed to asbestos at work, and may also be eligible for legal compensation.

If you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma and worked around asbestos-containing welding blankets, contact our Justice Support Team. Call us at (888) 360-4215 or request our FREE Mesothelioma Justice Guide to understand your next steps as a mesothelioma victim.

View Author and Sources
Sources
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  2. Master List© of Asbestos Forms & Asbestos-containing Products & Companies. Retrieved from: https://inspectapedia.com/hazmat/Asbestos_Products.php. Accessed on October 19, 2018.
  3. Asbestos welding rods. Retrieved from: http://asbestosglobal.org/asbestos-welding-rods/. Accessed on October 19, 2018.
  4. Welder Lawsuits For Asbestos-Related Injuries On The Rise. Retrieved from: http://www.weldingandgasestoday.org/index.php/2012/06/welder-lawsuits-for-asbestos-related-injuries-on-the-rise/. Accessed on October 19, 2018.

Last modified: October 30, 2018