Over the years, industrial workers have been exposed to all sorts of chemicals and toxins that have invariably shortened their lives or caused serious illnesses. One such substance is asbestos. Just about every industrial endeavor, from walls to insulation to roofing materials, was once constructed using asbestos.
Boiler wall coat, a substance used to coat the inside walls of boiler pipes for heat insulation, is no exception. While asbestos was a good insulator, it exposed workers to the harmful health effects it can cause. In particular, workers on Navy ships faced serious risk from exposure to the asbestos in boiler wall coat, whether they worked directly in the boiler room or not.
Though asbestos was banned in the 1970s, it is still found in everyday places. In fact, people continue to suffer from the effects of asbestos exposure. People living in older, poorly maintained homes and those working on job sites with asbestos-containing materials are at risk for developing serious asbestos-related illnesses.
One such illness is asbestosis, which can cause inflammation of the lungs and heart failure. Asbestos exposure can also cause lung, stomach, and colorectal cancer. One type of cancer in particular is known to only be caused by asbestos exposure—mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma attacks the lining of the heart, lungs, or abdomen—the mesothelium. Symptoms of the disease may not present for up to 40 years following the initial asbestos exposure. Once symptoms appear, treatment options are limited because the disease is typically severe and may have metastasized.
Exposure to asbestos is very serious. While those with prolonged exposure are most likely to develop disease, even those with a single exposure can develop health issues. Despite being banned, products containing asbestos still exist and they can be disturbed. If they can be disturbed, they can be inhaled and cause illness. It’s important to err on the side of caution when dealing with anything that may contain asbestos—including boiler wall coat.