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Chemical Plants

Chemical plants play a vital part in the American economy. There are over 13,500 U.S. chemical plants owned by about 9,000 companies. They generate more than a half-billion dollars in annual revenue. Yet chemical plants relied on asbestos — a dangerous mineral — for decades, and many workers are now developing deadly diseases as a result.

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For decades, American chemical plant workers faced health risks due to the widespread use of asbestos. U.S. chemical plant relied on asbestos from the 1930s to the early 1980s.

Did You Know?

Asbestos Exposure Causes Mesothelioma

Asbestos exposure is linked to deadly and incurable cancers like mesothelioma, along with other non-cancerous diseases.

Once the health risks were widely known, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) worked hard to have asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) removed from American work sites. This removal process included all chemical plants.

It was no small task removing ACMs from chemical plants. Every plant had installed asbestos products in all production areas for seven decades.

Engineers identified asbestos as a natural insulation product for protecting hot processes. It was fire resistant making asbestos the ideal solution for flame control.

Chemical plant owners, designers, and builders once considered asbestos the perfect support component for safety and economics. Chemical plants are hot, highly-pressurized facilities full of toxic substances.

It seemed filling chemical plants full of asbestos had no drawback — until the health risks became apparent.

Chemical Plant Workers Exposed to Asbestos

Chemical plants exposed tens of thousands of American workers to asbestos during the seven-decade period from first implementing asbestos to banning it. It’s fair to say every chemical plant worker had the risk of primary and secondary asbestos exposure.

There were many jobs exposing chemical plant workers to dangerous asbestos fibers, including:

  • Chemical tenders and equipment operators
  • Chemical engineers, designers, and drafters
  • Boilermakers
  • High-pressure steamfitters and welders
  • Plumbers, electricians and gas workers
  • Chemists and chemical laboratory technicians
  • Mixing and blending machine tenders
  • Packaging and filling machine tenders
  • Maintenance workers and janitorial staff
  • Refitters, carpenters, drywallers, and painters
  • Supervisory and quality control inspectors

Asbestos is a safe and stable material when correctly installed and left alone. The danger of asbestos exposure occurred during ACM handling, machining and forming into finished products.

Asbestos exposure also happened when old asbestos was removed or repaired. Dried asbestos is friable which means it crumbles easily and releases tiny fibers into the workplace air.

These microscopic particles are silicates. They’re tiny rock fibers that can’t be broken down in the human body as organic bacterial and viruses can.

Did You Know?

Chemical plant workers inhaling asbestos fibers became doomed. These non-organic irritants impaled into the lung lining to mesothelium and stayed forever.

Expelling asbestos fibers was impossible. Eventually, they formed scar tissue that turned into the deadly lung cancer disease mesothelioma.

A chemical plant worker’s risk of developing mesothelioma depended on the number of asbestos fibers they inhaled and the duration of exposure. The latency period for developing mesothelioma varied from 20 to over 50 years.

Many workers had no idea they were in danger. Some still aren’t aware today. Tragically, some chemical plant owners and asbestos product suppliers knew full well they placed people in peril. Now, they’re being held accountable.

Asbestos Containing Products in Chemical Plants

Chemical plants using asbestos were complex facilities. No two were alike. Chemical plants produced every type of asbestos-containing product from cosmetics to rocket fuel.

Common asbestos-containing products included:

  • Chemical boilers and incinerators
  • High-pressure pipe insulation
  • Duct and delivery system wrappings
  • Ovens, tanks, and pumps
  • Heat exchangers, furnaces, reactors, and extruders
  • Floor tiles and workspace assembly surfaces
  • Generators and fuel storage areas
  • Machine friction applications like gaskets and brakes
  • Wallboards, paints, and sealants

Many chemical products also contained asbestos products. Toothpaste, hairspray, and deodorants had asbestos additives. So did cookware and food storage containers.

Chemical plants developed asbestos-based fabrics for public transportation and private automobiles. These factories even made their workers’ protective coveralls, gloves, and masks from asbestos.

Compensation for Chemical Plant Workers with Mesothelioma

If you are a chemical plant worker who developed mesothelioma from workplace asbestos exposure, you’re entitled to compensation.

Responsibility of Manufacturers
Negligent manufactuers of asbestos-containing products held responsible for causing mesothelioma must pay for medical expenses, lost income and personal damages.

Families of mesothelioma victims can apply for payment on behalf of ill members. They can also file lawsuits in wrongful death cases.

We can tell you more about the different ways to receive financial compensation. See all the ways we can help.

Mesothelioma Support Team
Stephanie KiddWritten by:

Editor-in-Chief

Stephanie Kidd grew up in a family of civil servants, blue-collar workers, and medical caregivers. Upon graduating Summa Cum Laude from Stetson University, she began her career specializing in worker safety regulations and communications. Now, a proud member of the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) and Editor-in-Chief of the Mesothelioma Justice Network, Stephanie serves as a voice for mesothelioma victims and their families.

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