Plant Workers and Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos in Plant Workers

Asbestos plant workers were involved in one of the most hazardous occupations in the world, with the substance that they worked with not only harmful to their health, but also possibly harmful to anyone they came in to contact with as well. Due to this there have been many reports of people developing serious illnesses as a result of their former job, with many still coming to light as the years move on. Asbestos is a substance that lets off tiny particles into the air which, when breathed in, can lodge in the airways of worker’s lungs. They also attach themselves to clothes and hair, meaning that their hazardous effects can spread further outside of the plant into the community and their homes possibly unknowingly exposing their families to asbestos. These particles can stay lodged in the body lying latent for two to five decades without showing any sign of disease. However, once the symptoms become apparent, they can cause a number of potentially life threatening illnesses to the former plant worker. One of the most common conditions suffered from former plant workers is that of asbestosis. This causes the lung to scar and petrify over a period of years, leading to many complications up to eventual death. Another common illness in these former workers – although rare elsewhere in society – is mesothelioma, which is a cancer that develops in either the heart, pleural cavity or the abdominal cavity. As well as these two illnesses, former workers also have a greater risk of contracting many other types of cancer, including colon, esophageal, abdominal and lung cancer. A report issued by the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety, conducted a large survey of those who worked in plants with asbestos from the 1947 to 1974. It investigated the different causes of death of those had had died before 1974 and who had also worked in one of these plants. The evidence that they uncovered was pretty conclusive, with figures showing those working in asbestos plants had a much higher rate of death from certain illnesses than other sections of society. For example, the rate of death for lung cancer was 49, in comparison to the 36 expected in the general population. Even more striking was the amount of deaths from mesothelioma, which stated that the national average was so low that it was impossible to quantify. In stark contrast to this, there were a total of 17 deaths in people working in asbestos plants. Asbestosis was just as concerning, with 67 men dying from this – which was 60 more than the survey had expected to find. There have been various other studies to back up this theory of asbestos causing illnesses amongst those exposed to it in the work force. In fac,t it is not even a theory anymore, but a widely accepted fact the world over that asbestos exposure can cause serious health risks including asbestosis and mesothelioma. Reference: