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In the past, asbestos was mined extensively and widely used across many industries, including manufacturing, auto repair, construction, shipbuilding, and transportation. An estimated 27 million American workers were exposed to airborne asbestos fibers between 1940 and 1979. Occupations that suffered the greatest exposure were auto mechanics, boilermakers, bricklayers, building inspectors, carpenters, demolition workers, drywallers, electricians, floor covering workers, furnace workers, glaziers, grinders, insulators, ironworkers, longshoremen, maintenance workers, merchant marines, millwrights, operating engineers, painters, pipefitters, plasterers, plumbers, roofers, refinery workers, sheet metal workers, shipyard workers, steamfitters, tile setters, U.S. Navy personnel and welders.
Today, asbestos use has been sharply curtailed, though not entirely eliminated. The greatest risk is in construction, where asbestos products are still used and where workers may be exposed to existing asbestos hazards while repairing and demolishing older structures.
Asbestos safely contained within a building can also be released during a natural or human-caused disaster. A fire or tornado that destroys a building can send asbestos fibers into the air, potentially harming anyone in the vicinity but posing a special risk to rescue workers responding to the calamity.
The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001 starkly illustrate the danger of asbestos exposure to emergency response personnel. Firefighters, police, paramedics, construction workers and volunteers were exposed to high concentrations of dust containing known carcinogens, including asbestos. According to the New York Post, 3,700 of those Ground Zero responders have developed some form of cancer.
If you or a loved one has had a mesothelioma diagnosis and you’d like to know your legal rights, schedule a free consultation at Prim Law Firm, PLLC. Call us at 304-721-4619 or contact our office online.