Power Plant Workers and Asbestos Exposure
There are hundreds of power plants in America. Asbestos was widely installed in every part of power plant operation from the 1930s until the early 1980s. Practically every worker employed in power plants during those years experienced asbestos exposure.
All power plants use a combination of three steps to produce electricity:
- A fuel source is consumed and turned into energy.
- The energy propels turbines.
- These turbines energize electrical generators.
These systems all involve high temperatures that create a fire risk. Over many decades, asbestos was commonly used to insulate and fireproof America’s generation stations, putting power plant workers at high risk for asbestos exposure.
How Power Plant Workers Were Exposed to Asbestos
All standard power generation stations produce an extensive amount of heat and need insulation. Unfortunately, asbestos used to be considered the perfect insulator.
Power Plants and Asbestos Dangers
Asbestos is most dangerous when workers are handling and forming it from raw states to finished products. Once asbestos products are installed, sealed, and left inert, they are relatively safe.
It’s when asbestos materials are disturbed that microscopic fibers are released into the air and form deadly dust clouds. Power plants often became filled with this asbestos dust during maintenance periods as well as initial installation.
It wasn’t only workers directly cutting, shaping, and fitting asbestos who were at exposure risk. Everyone in the power plant facility inhaled airborne asbestos. That included secondhand exposure to office and administration personnel.