Although it is one of the most toxic and dangerous things to use in manufacturing and construction, asbestos was at one time used in thousands of products. Exposure to asbestos can cause a number of diseases including a deadly cancer called mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is most common in the lining of the lungs and chest, but can also affect the lining of the abdomen or heart.
Welding was an industry that was highly affected by asbestos and many welders have eventually developed mesothelioma. At one time, the rods that were used for welding were coated with a mixture of up to 15 percent asbestos. The material in the rod is melted and used to connect the items being welded together. During the welding process, asbestos fibers were released into the air from the welding rods where they could be easily inhaled or ingested. The fibers also landed on their clothing, the welding blankets that were used, and their shoes where they could be carried home, exposing others to the risks.
Some companies who manufactured the welding rods and other asbestos-containing products were aware of the dangers of the mineral, but continued to use it because of its easy availability and relative inexpensiveness. Many of these companies can be held legally and financially responsible for their negligence.