Chemical plants play a large role in the U.S. economy. For decades, chemical plants relied on asbestos, a dangerous mineral known for its durability and resistance to heat and fire.
However, many workers that were regularly exposed to asbestos-containing construction materials are now developing mesothelioma and other diseases related to asbestos. To this day, asbestos can still be found in chemical plants.
Below, learn more about products that contain asbestos and how workers could be exposed. If you have questions about your legal options after being diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestosis, or lung cancer, contact PWHD to set up a free and confidential consultation. Our firm has helped many asbestos victims secure the compensation needed to cover medical care and other losses.
Chemical Plants and Asbestos Exposure
Asbestos was quite a desirable and inexpensive mineral to build chemical plant facilities up until the 1980s. It was used in gaskets and packing to keep equipment and lines from leaking corrosive chemicals and was also used to line equipment (i.e. pumps, boilers) and insulate pipes to prevent corrosion and control high-heat environments. This mineral could also be found in the protective clothing that chemical workers were given to wear, such as gloves, face masks, aprons and coveralls.
Once these products are cut, abraded, or otherwise disturbed, they release asbestos fibers that can remain in the air and be inhaled by anyone in close proximity. No level of asbestos exposure is safe and inhaling these fibers on a daily basis may lead to serious health issues such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis.
Asbestos-Containing Products and Materials
There are numerous products in chemical plants that may contain asbestos, such as:
- Sealing materials such as gaskets and packing
- Chemical boilers and incinerators
- Duct systems, liners and wraps
- Extruders, furnaces, heat exchangers and reactors
- Floor tiles and assembly work surfaces
- Grinders and mixers
- Generators and fuel storage areas
- High-pressure fiberglass pipe insulation
- Machine friction applications (i.e. brakes and clutches)
- Ovens and driers
- Tanks, pumps, valves
Asbestos-containing materials also commonly used to build chemical plants include:
- Benches and countertops
- Cement block primers
- Molding compounds
Chemical Plant Workers Most at Risk
Thousands of chemical plant workers may have been exposed to asbestos while performing various tasks. These tasks included delivering materials to processing areas, operating or repairing equipment, developing and producing chemical products, and more.
Workers most at-risk of inhaling these dangerous fibers include:
- Chemical equipment operators and tenders
- Chemical engineers, designers and drafters
- Chemists and chemical technicians
- Gas workers
- Packing and filling machine tenders
- Maintenance workers and janitorial staff
- Mixing and blending machine setters
- Quality control inspectors
The risk of exposure goes up considerably for anyone whose job it was to maintain and repair equipment and machinery. Inhaling these fibers after cutting, removing and replacing asbestos gaskets, packing and other products every day can cause significant inflammation and scarring of the lung tissue over time.
Even supervisors who worked in the area where a repair was being done could have become exposed to asbestos dust and fibers.
Unfortunately, asbestos-related diseases have been linked to working in chemical plants. Workers can develop mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that primarily affects the lungs, chest and heart. Mesothelioma symptoms do not begin to manifest until 20 to 50 years after initial exposure.
Prolonged exposure to asbestos fibers can also lead to asbestosis, a chronic lung disease that causes shortness of breath, chest tightness and a persistent, dry cough. Similar to mesothelioma, the condition is irreversible and the latency period is long (up to 40 years after initial exposure).
Learn If You Qualify for Compensation
PWHD has secured millions in compensation for victims of asbestos-related diseases. We have over 45 years of experience taking on large corporations and winning significant verdicts for our clients.
Our attorneys understand how important compensation can be while victims undergo medical treatment and learn to cope with their diagnosis. We are ready to help determine if you may be eligible to pursue compensation during a free, no-obligation legal consultation.
Read what some of our clients have to say about our services. There are no upfront fees if our firm takes a case. We are available anytime, day or night, to take your call.