As the unofficial end of summer, Labor Day is a wonderful time to relax with friends and family. But this hard-won “workingman’s holiday” also celebrates the struggles and achievements of the American workers.
So it is fitting that we take time today to remember the hard-working men and women who were unknowingly exposed to asbestos as they strove to make a better life for their families.
Durable, fireproof, and abundant, asbestos was once considered a “miracle mineral.” However, we now know that exposure to asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma, a rare and deadly cancer.
Asbestos exposure has been a serious problem for the American workforce. Between 1940 and 1979, an estimated 27 million workers were exposed to airborne asbestos fibers in the U.S., according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Asbestos was so widely used in manufacturing products of the time that many workers – including oil rig and oil refinery workers, steel mill workers, and paper mill workers – faced a potential risk of exposure.
Asbestos was used in oil field work for its heat-resistant properties. It was used in drilling mud additives and as insulation in oil refinery lines.
In paper mills, asbestos could be found in building materials and paper mill machinery. It was also added to commercial, corrugated, and specialty papers (a use later banned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). A news release from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reveals that as many as nine U.S. manufacturers were selling asbestos paper to the public as late as 1980.
Steel mill workers were at high risk of asbestos exposure because of asbestos-containing products used in the industry such as insulation, asbestos millboard, and asbestos expansion allowance sheets.
Symptoms of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases may take up to 40 years to appear. So manufacturing workers exposed to asbestos in the 1960s and 1970s are only now being diagnosed.
Asbestos exposure remains a concern for today’s workers. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that around 1.3 million workers in the construction and general industry trades are at risk of exposure on the job.
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and believe you were exposed to asbestos, you may be entitled to financial compensation. To learn more about your legal options, contact Sokolove Law for a free consultation.