Chemical Technicians

From the 1920s to the 1980s, chemical technicians were exposed to asbestos during their daily work. As a result of that asbestos exposure decades ago, many chemical technicians are now being diagnosed with mesothelioma — an aggressive and deadly form of cancer that is exclusively caused by asbestos fibers.

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Chemical Technicians and Asbestos Exposure

“Chemical technician” is a general term for workers employed in chemical processing plants. These plants are a huge employer in the industrial sector, with approximately 13,500 American facilities producing a wide range of chemical products.

Chemical production is a primary contributor to the U.S. economy with revenues exceeding a half-trillion dollars.

The entire chemical industry used vast asbestos quantities from the 1920s when asbestos became popular for its insulation and fire resistance properties. Asbestos use continued in the chemical industry until the late 1980s, when the extreme health dangers from asbestos exposure became well-known.

All 5 U.S. Labor Bureau chemical worker classifications were exposed to asbestos during the 20th century. For decades, thousands of chemical technician employees suffered asbestos exposure.

How Chemical Technicians Were Exposed to Asbestos

Chemical production plants require high heat to change elements and compounds from one form to another. To control heat dangers, chemical plants used large amounts of asbestos for insulating high-temperature areas and protecting them from causing a fire.

Asbestos qualities seemed the perfect solution as asbestos has low heat transfer properties and won’t burn under any conditions.

These qualities also made asbestos appear the right material for chemical technicians’ personal protective equipment. Workers wore asbestos coveralls, aprons, gloves and facemasks to protect themselves from heat, fire, and chemical burns.

Many workers were unaware of the dangers of asbestos. They were constantly exposed to asbestos with their production materials and protective clothing.

All chemical production plants use incinerators. These high heat containers notoriously used asbestos for insulation wrap, gaskets, and door sealants.

A continual heat and dry cycle turned asbestos protection into friable particles or dusty powders that were constantly airborne. Chemical technicians regularly inhaled and ingested asbestos fibers.

Asbestos Used in Chemical Manufacturing

Asbestos fibers were used in many chemical compounds and chemical processing equipment. Many asbestos products were for the construction industry that consumed asbestos at an enormous rate.

Chemical companies used asbestos to manufacture products like:

  • Paint
  • Adhesives
  • Insulation
  • Sealants
  • Joint compounds

Synthetic products like rubber and resins contained asbestos fibers added at chemical plants to improve performance.

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Thousands came into contact with asbestos on a regular basis. Get a free legal case review to find out if you may have been exposed.

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Chemical Technician Careers

Chemical technicians cover a broad spectrum of chemical plant duties.

Primarily, chemical technicians handle all types of chemicals from raw material manufacturing to blending chemicals to produce compound products. All this requires different degrees of skill and training backgrounds.

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics lists these 5 chemical technician job descriptions:

  1. Chemists: Chemists hold various degrees in chemistry and chemical engineering. They study molecular structures and chemical compounds as well as reactions and substance properties. Most chemists deal with research and product development. However, many worked directly with asbestos.
  2. Chemical Technicians: Most chemical technicians hold chemistry degrees or diplomas, but they’re hands-on in the actual manufacturing of chemical materials. Chemical technicians assist chemists in producing products. Their roles include handling chemical materials from start to finish. Chemical technicians were constantly exposed to chemical products containing asbestos.
  3. Chemical Equipment Operators: Chemical equipment operators are less formally trained but highly efficient at operating chemical production equipment and controls. Equipment operators were also routinely exposed to chemical materials holding asbestos.
  4. Mixing Tenders: Chemical blending is overseen by tenders who physically control chemical volumes being blended. Their roles always exposed them to chemicals with asbestos.
  5. Packaging and Shipping Workers: Final products are processed for packaging and shipping by less-skilled workers. However, they were also exposed to asbestos in chemical compounds.

Chemical Technicians Health Risks

Airborne asbestos particles are extremely dangerous. Tiny asbestos particles were easily dislodged when chemical technicians used asbestos in any form, and these microscopic asbestos fibers were inhaled and lodged in workers’ lungs.

Asbestos fibers can’t be expelled once inside the lungs and embed into the pleura (lung lining) instead.

Micro asbestos particles will remain dormant for decades. After 20-50 years, asbestos fibers can trigger the growth of cancerous mesothelioma tumors. Its only known cause is asbestos exposure.

Other asbestos-related diseases also occur in the digestive and cardiovascular systems.

Help for Mesothelioma Victims

Chemical technicians who developed mesothelioma due to workplace asbestos exposure may be eligible for legal compensation. Awards are made for medical expenses, wage loss, and personal injury.

Punitive damages are also possible and family members can file lawsuits for the wrongful death of relatives.

There are many legal precedents for mesothelioma lawsuits against chemical companies who exercised neglect and failed to protect chemical technicians from asbestos exposure.

Some chemical companies involved in asbestos-related litigation for exposing workers to asbestos include:

  • Chevron Phillips Chemical Co.
  • Dow Chemical Co.
  • Dupont
  • Durez Corporation
  • General Electric Company
  • Hill Brothers Chemical
  • Hooker Chemical Plant
  • Monsanto Chemical Plant
  • Rogers Corporation
  • Rostone Inc.
  • Union Carbide Corporation
  • Westinghouse Corporation

If you worked for any of the above companies as a chemical technician and you’ve since developed an asbestos-caused illness, then you may be eligible for compensation.

For more information on seeking justice for asbestos exposure as a chemical technician, contact our Justice Support Team today.

Author:Stephanie Kidd

Editor-in-Chief of the Mesothelioma Justice Network

Stephanie Kidd

Stephanie Kidd works tirelessly as a dedicated advocate for the vulnerable and underrepresented. Stephanie worked as a copywriter for an agency whose focus was communicating safety procedures on construction work sites. With her extensive background in victim advocacy and a dedication to seeing justice done, Stephanie works hard to ensure that all online content is reliable, truthful and helpful.

Last modified: October 24, 2019

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