What is the industrial asbestos risk of your work place? The mesothelioma risk attached to various industries can be plotted on a continuum: from high industrial asbestos risk – to the least risk.
Firstly, you must identify asbestos content inherent to your building, equipment, raw materials or products. Then compare this information with mesothelioma statistics for your industry.
Exposure to asbestos is the main risk factor for developing mesothelioma injury. The mesothelioma injury normally develops in to full fledged mesothelioma lung cancer.
Asbestos is a family of fibrous minerals made of silicate.
Asbestos Fibers were once used in many products such as thermal asbestos insulation, pipes, asbestos tiles, door gaskets, asbestos siding, soundproofing, roofing, asbestos flooring, guttering, ceilings, patching compounds, fireproof gloves and ironing board covers, brake pads, paints, crayons and even portable hair dryers.
When asbestos fibers are processed and separated, it forms a microscopic dust that can be easily inhaled. If inhaled and not excreted by the body, it can collect in the lungs and stomach and eventually lead to the development of serious, life threatening diseases.
Industrial environments with high risk of asbestos exposure
Asbestos is classified as a toxic substance. It use is regulated by asbestos mesothelioma law. Despite global asbestos control measures, many workers are however, still at risk of asbestos exposure. We will discuss a couple of industrial environments where high levels of the toxic asbestos fibers may be found.
Asbestos mining, asbestos processing and other underground mining
Asbestos exposure of miners can come from either naturally occurring asbestos in the ore or host rock or from asbestos contained in manufactured products.
Metal and Nonmetal Mines: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), other research organizations like EPA and scientists have noted the occurrence of cancers and asbestosis among miners involved in the mining and milling of commodities that contain asbestos.
Mining activities, such as blasting, cutting, crushing, grinding, or simply disturbing the ore or surrounding earth may cause asbestos fibers to become airborne.
Asbestos mines are still operational in many third world countries. These countries and their neighboring countries still operate asbestos processing plants. Now that is high industrial asbestos risk! Asbestos ore is therefore still being transported between the mines and the plants by rail- or road transport.
Without legal precedents of asbestos lawsuits, mesothelioma claims and asbestos settlements, the citizens of these countries are helpless. In the South African town of Kimberley, one hospital reports 39 new cases of diagnosis malignant mesothelioma lung cancer every month.
Asbestos mesothelioma law, banning the mining of asbestos and constraining the processing of asbestos, was only passed during 2008 by the South African parliament.
Construction or demolition sites
Asbestos used to be the preferred material for the production of building materials for many decades. Because of its strength and durability, asbestos products were generally used between 1950 and 1975.
Construction workers and builders who tear down and alter old buildings will encounter any of these products. Complete asbestos homes, called pre-fab homes, were also in great demand. Many older buildings still contain the mineral.
Their work disturbs the asbestos fibers and the toxic asbestos dust is released into the air. Such workers experience high industrial asbestos risk. The codes of good practice for asbestos abatement should be supervised, to prevent inhalation of the asbestos dust by the workers.
Power plants and mobile generators and welders
Asbestos fibers are highly heat resistant. It is also well known for its poor electrical conductivity. Asbestos insulation used to be the material of choice for the thermal insulation of power plants and mobile generators.
Therefore many of the broilers and generators in power plants are lined with various forms of asbestos.
Safety protocols should be followed as a part their employers standing asbestos management plan, as required by law. If such a plan had not been previously implemented by the employer, they should discuss the relevant laws with their employers.
The shipbuilding industry employed hundreds of asbestos-containing products as components of the ships they were building. Because of this practice during the 1930s, 40s and 50s, thousands of shipyard workers worked with asbestos in various applications. They received high levels of asbestos exposure over prolonged periods.
Therefore shipyard workers are considered a very high risk group of industrial asbestos risk, and therefore potential asbestos exposure. They are still at risk today, when performing other maintenance or cleaning operations on older ships. The asbestos content of such ships are normally aged and deteriorated.
Automotive mechanic shops
Asbestos materials are known for its properties of hardness, durability and heat resistance. For decades, many older manufacturing plants used asbestos to manufacture breaks and clutch linings.
There is evidence that mechanics working on older vehicles may be at risk of asbestos exposure. Their work environment is therefore considered to have a high industrial asbestos risk.
Asbestos insulation is used during the construction of steel mills, because of its properties of heat resistance and poor heat conductivity.
Steel mill workers work in an environment of high industrial asbestos risk.
Buildings built before the 1980s
Most commercial-, government- and school buildings from this period contain asbestos products of some kind. Because people work in these buildings we aslo classify them as high industrial asbestos risk. The danger occurs as the asbestos building materials begin to age and deteriorate. Natural disasters may damage such buildings, as seen globally recently.
All people should become knowledgeable about asbestos, where and in what forms it was used. They will then be enabled to manage their own safety.
Geography of The Asbestos Industry
Statistically, it was proven that individuals living near asbestos manufacturing plants live under high industrial asbestos risk. Asbestos fibers leaking into the surrounding air and water find its way into their bodies and leads to high diagnosis malignant mesothelioma figures.
If you or one of your loved ones have ever worked in a job with high industrial asbestos risk, you could save much trouble by already keeping careful note of the products, suppliers, manufacturers, equipment, buildings etc, relevant to asbestos exposure at your work place.
It is never good to live in fear. However, it would be prudent to keep this log. If you or any of your close relatives do receive the diagnosis malignant mesothelioma at any later stage, these records could expedite a successful asbestos settlement in your favour.
Pieter Pepler is a management consultant to small and medium enterpises. He has a keen interest in in health aspects and spends much of his time researching and writing about the causes and alternative treatment options for the natural treatment of various chronic diseases.
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