The September 2010 edition of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine contains the results of a study on specific occupations and their mesothelioma risks. The study, conducted in France, confirms that shipbuilders, construction workers and those involved in asbestos manufacturing and its products have the highest risk of developing mesothelioma.
For over 50 years, asbestos was widely used in industries all over the world for its fire resistant capabilities. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) imposed guidelines to protect workers in an attempt to prevent asbestos-related diseases and other industrial cancers. Currently, the EPA limits the amount of time that employees can work in asbestos-containing areas.
Jobs With A High Risk of Mesothelioma
Researchers conducted the four-year study from 1998 to 2002 and focused on pleuralmesothelioma, which is the most frequently diagnosed form of mesothelioma. Pleuralmesothelioma attacks the lining of the chest cavity around the lungs. Inhaling asbestos fibers causes chronic inflammation and irritation in the pleura, eventually leading to cancer. Once present, the mesothelioma quickly spreads to other parts of the body and the outlook is rarely long-term.
Over 80 percent of the 462 workers studied were men, and researchers looked at jobs that had the biggest risk of encountering airborne asbestos fibers. The three occupations with the highest risk of mesothelioma included:
- Shipbuilders. Asbestos is heavily used on ships for fire safety; asbestos fibers can become airborne, and shipbuilders can subsequently inhale the fibers.
- Construction workers. The asbestos in insulation and other construction materials puts the workers at risk.
- Manufacturers of metal products, chemicals and railroad and aircraft equipment. This group also includes sheet metal workers, welders, plumbers, metal molders and cabinet makers.
Records on mesothelioma deaths in the United States did not begin until 1999. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a report indicating that approximately 2,500 Americans died of mesothelioma in 1999.
According to the American Lung Association, lung cancer kills over 150,000 people each year. Of those killed, approximately 15 percent developed lung cancer from asbestos-related products while working.
Over 100 companies have declared bankruptcy as a result of hundreds of thousands ofmesothelioma lawsuits over the years. Plaintiffs can recover for their own injuries and for family members’ wrongful deaths. A qualified mesothelioma lawyer can be of great assistance to workers with mesothelioma and their families.