Paper production is one of the oldest and largest industries in the world. Even in today's digital environment, the United States consumes more than 60 million tons of paper products each year. The paper mills where these pulp and paper products are manufactured utilize machinery and chemicals to process pulp before mill workers form, press and dry pulp to create paper products.
Like many industries during the 20th century, paper mills used asbestos throughout facilities because the inexpensive mineral was also durable and resistant to heat and fire. Because of the heat created by machinery, the chemicals present and the flammable nature of paper products, asbestos was used widely in paper mills in machine components and as insulation around walls, pipes and equipment.
Due to the heavy use of asbestos insulation throughout paper mills, all paper mill workers were at risk of exposure to airborne asbestos dust. Unfortunately, paper mill millwrights responsible for the maintenance and repair of machinery likely faced the most exposure. When intact, asbestos containing materials are not a danger. It is when the materials begin to break down, often from natural wear and tear on machinery, that asbestos fibers are made airborne and become dangerous. When machinery was opened up for repair, paper mill workers likely encountered asbestos dust trapped inside of machinery. Additionally, the removable and modification of parts that contained asbestos often created even more asbestos dust in the work environment. When inhaled or ingested, these tiny fibers can become lodged in the lungs creating scarring and inflammation that may lead to the development of mesothelioma.
In some facilities, asbestos may even have been used as filler in some paper products mill workers produced. Paper backing, corrugated insulation and roofing felts are a few products that may have been produced containing asbestos in paper mills. Workers in the pulp and paper industry who may have handled raw asbestos while creating these products are at higher risk of developing mesothelioma from asbestos exposure.
Unfortunately, millions of people have been exposed to asbestos over the years. 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.