Civil Engineers and Asbestos Exposure
Engineering covers a wide range of professional occupations. Every engineering field involves research, design, and construction for end-use products. That can be everyday household materials or something exotic like interstellar space probes.
But one engineering field has the most common effect on our daily lives — civil engineers who make our civic infrastructures.
One thing many different engineers had in common is being exposed to asbestos from their project materials.
Most civil engineers weren’t exposed to asbestos from directly working with asbestos-contaminated products. Rather, civil engineers inhaled and ingested asbestos fibers when they supervised workers and were present on jobs where asbestos dust filled the air.
How Civil Engineers Were Exposed to Asbestos
Most civil engineers spent much time around civic construction job sites. A great deal of civil engineering responsibility is making inspections and giving directions to field technicians.
Civil work projects produced large asbestos byproducts and discharges. Mixing concrete, as well as cutting and fitting asbestos-protected pipes, caused dry powder to become airborne.
Roadworks were extremely dusty in dry weather. Clouds of asbestos-contaminated dust were constantly present and exposed unprotected civil engineers to airborne asbestos fibers. Similar hazards occurred in bridge, tunnel, and runway projects.
Engineers even polluted their offices after returning from the field with particles stuck in their clothes and on their testing equipment.
Very few civil engineers were aware of the extreme health risks associated with asbestos exposure.
Asbestos Dangers Were Covered Up
Most engineers didn’t know about the dangers of asbestos before the late 1900s. Many manufacturers and suppliers of asbestos-containing products intentionally concealed how dangerous asbestos was. Eventually, this negligence caused many civil engineers and other asbestos-exposed workers to develop fatal health problems.
Many engineers spend hours in the field each day breathing in asbestos fibers that dislodged from their main products during cutting and fitting. Demolition works were equally hazardous. Dust from concrete and asphalt removed from old infrastructure was deadly dangerous. But few civil engineers took protective precautions.