Agricultural Professionals

The Agricultural community is filled with more job possibilities than some may realize. Form Agricultural Engineers, to Garden Center Managers, to Irrigation Specialists, those who work in agriculture tend to understand and appreciate the earth and things related to it. But because many agricultural professionals either work outdoors or in older buildings, they may be at risk for asbestos exposure, a potentially hazardous mineral known to cause serious and even fatal illness.

Asbestos and Agriculture

Unfortunately, older buildings on agricultural establishments and agribusinesses are often built using asbestos. Initially, before the 1970’s, asbestos was used in dry wall, brake lining, tile adhesive and fabrics because of its fire-retardant properties. Asbestos can also be found in some agricultural equipment and machinery. However, when disturbed and inhaled, asbestos fibers can build up in the lungs and cause mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a rare but deadly lung cancer that can also be found in the heart and abdomen if asbestos is ingested.   Mesothelioma symptoms are often subtle and can be latent for 20-50 years after initial exposure to asbestos. Because of the lengthy latency period and the possibility of misdiagnosis, mesothelioma patients tend to disregard the risk of developing the disease.  However, once the disease is correctly diagnosed, it is often difficult to treat. Realizing the hazard that asbestos presents is key to receiving timely treatment and prolonging life expectancy. Though asbestos is often found in man-made appliances and buildings, it is a natural mineral and, before processing, comes directly from the earth.  Those who work closely with rock and soil deposits, and even those who happen to work outdoors, may also be subject to asbestos exposure. Naturally occurring asbestos, or NOA, can be found in the air and in some drinking water.  Though the effects of NOA are not entirely understood, they may be as detrimental as manufactured asbestos. Shallow deposits of NOA can be found near populated areas, including 50-58 California counties and 19 other states, making mesothelioma a concern for agricultural professionals who work both in buildings and outdoors.