Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning mechanics, also known as HVAC mechanics, are responsible for servicing heating and cooling systems. From public buildings such as governmental offices to residential homes and apartments, HVAC mechanics maintain and repair heating and cooling units to allow occupants to control the climate indoors. Some of these repairs may be on an emergency basis such as a broken furnace during the winter or a broken air conditioning unit during a hot summer.
HVAC mechanics work in a variety of environments, which may have exposed many to asbestos while servicing heating and cooling units. This exposure occurs as asbestos was used in construction and may have been present in ceilings, flooring or walls within the buildings. As these mechanics are around the ventilation systems where asbestos dust may have gathered they are at risk for asbestos-related illnesses. These illnesses include respiratory conditions and mesothelioma cancers. Lung cancer has also been observed as one of the complications associated with exposure to asbestos among HVAC mechanics.
Asbestos and HVAC Work
Heating systems are often one of the prime locations for asbestos exposure, putting many HVAC mechanics at risk. The asbestos was used to create a flame retardant that will reduce the likelihood of a fire outbreak spreading and may be present in buildings that were built prior to 1980. This asbestos may be found in many locations within a heating system such as in the walls, around pipes and other sealants to prevent leaks and fire risk. Insulation is another source of asbestos within buildings that must be services by HVAC mechanics. This insulation may not have directly contained asbestos but may have been mined from a location known to contain large quantities of asbestos.
While asbestos is still legally used within the United States it is tightly regulated. During the 1970s a law had been passed by Congress to determine what constitutes as “asbestos free” for products. If the asbestos content is lower than 1% then it is considered to be free of asbestos. In recent years, laws have been put forward for approval that will completely ban the use of asbestos in any products within the United States. Often when these laws are passed they are overturned later on, which permits the use of asbestos to resume. Funding will also be devoted to the study of asbestos and the asbestos-related conditions that it has caused as well as treatments for these causes.