Plumbers, much like pipefitters, are responsible for installing and repairing pipe systems. Plumbers, however, generally work only on water, waste, and gas pipe systems for homes and small businesses. Like many occupations closely related to construction, plumbers often work with building materials that historically contained asbestos. Throughout much of the twentieth century, the American public was kept in the dark by companies who knew that asbestos exposure could lead to the development of lung cancer, mesothelioma cancer and other diseases. Asbestos gained popularity for being a cheap, durable mineral that was also resistant to heat, corrosion and flame. These qualities are what made asbestos desirable for use in gaskets and insulation for walls and pipes.
Everyday tasks performed by a plumber may have placed them at risk of exposure to asbestos. As they worked to install and repair pipes, plumbers often needed to rip out old asbestos insulation as well as cut, sand, and fit new insulation to sizes required for a specific pipe system. These activities damaged asbestos materials and created asbestos dust into the air. Once airborne, asbestos fibers can easily be inhaled or ingested causing damage to organ tissues. This damage to organs can eventually lead to the development of mesothelioma cancer and other asbestos-related diseases.
Further danger of exposure was present for plumbers as they often worked in unventilated work spaces that were often surrounds by asbestos wall insulation. Some installation and removal plumbing jobs may have even required plumbers to cut through asbestos insulation and drywall, causing more asbestos dust to circulate through the air on a jobsite.
Over the years, millions of people have been exposed to asbestos in the United States. Only now are we able to see the disastrous effects of asbestos exposure in the workplace. Generally, it takes 10 to 60 years from the time of asbestos exposure until symptoms appear or mesothelioma is diagnosed.
Many of the companies have established trust funds to pay compensation to persons injured by asbestos.
If you have mesothelioma, or other asbestos-related injury, and wish to consult an attorney about your legal rights to compensation, CLICK HERE for a free consultation.