Up until 1980, many electricians were exposed to asbestos on the job. Asbestos is a natural substance often used as a building material due to its fire-proof and heat resistant properties. This material was commonly found in drywall, ceiling tiles, and insulation used for various wiring projects. Electricians were also exposed to asbestos through insulation film.
Even after the 1980s, electricians continued to be exposed to asbestos as they removed and repaired insulation. Workers were also exposed as they cut or drilled wallboard and tiles. That drilling and cutting caused asbestos dust to become airborne. Some electricians were unaware of the hazards of inhaling it, and workers who did not use adequate protective equipment were at a greater risk of exposure.
Electricians routinely worked with products that contained asbestos. Some of the most common are:
- thermal paper
- ceiling tile
- cement siding
- spackling materials
- cement siding
- electrical cloth
- electrical ducts
- electrical wiring insulation
- cement wallboard
- electrical panel and partitions
- textured paint
- decorative plaster
Electricians and Asbestos
It was discovered in the mid-1970s that extended exposure to asbestos on the job caused many electricians to develop pulmonary diseases, such as lung cancer, asbestosis, and mesothelioma. Electricians sometimes brought home infected fibers on their clothes and other personal items. This exposed the asbestos to family members and others who lived with the worker.
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that is caused by asbestos exposure. Mesothelioma can affect the lining of the lungs, heart, and abdomen. The cancer isn’t found in organs in the beginning stages. However, it may metastasize and spread. This leads to a poor prognosis. Asbestosis is also caused by asbestos exposure. Scar tissue accumulates in the patient’s lungs, which causes trouble breathing and a reduction in blood flow.
Exposure to asbestos and smoking are two main contributing factors to asbestos-related cancer. Smokers who have had prolonged exposure are at a high risk for lung cancer. Asbestos exposure may also contribute to the development of malignant tumors. In addition, it may take anywhere from 20 to 50 years for these patients to develop lung cancer, mesothelioma or asbestosis. The symptoms can be mild at first, and they may include chest pain, trouble breathing, and a persistent dry cough that produces blood in the patient’s sputum. The sufferer’s chance of survival is grim when the cancer is caught in its late stages.