Asbestos was used in the production of millions of boilers, boiler rooms and the equipment worn by boiler workers in the decades before it became regulated in the United States. Unfortunately, this puts boilermakers, operators and workers at risk of developing mesothelioma and other diseases related to exposure to asbestos.
If you or a loved one worked with or around boilers and have been diagnosed with a disease caused by asbestos exposure, contact Bailey & Glasser, LLP for a free case consultation. You may be entitled to financial compensation from a boiler manufacturer, employer or third party. Our asbestos attorneys can help you understand your rights.
What Are the Health Risks of Being Exposed to Asbestos?
Asbestos can cause health problems when it is ingested or inhaled. Tiny asbestos fibers and particles can become lodged in the inner tissues of the body, including the mesothelium, or the protective membrane that surrounds the organs. Over time, these fibers can cause irritation and scarring that may result in the development of cancer. Asbestos can also cause other health issues, especially involving the lungs and respiratory system.
Common illnesses associated with asbestos exposure include:
- Mesothelioma – an aggressive, terminal type of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. It involves the mesothelium, or the protective membrane that lines the organs.
- Asbestosis – this chronic lung disease is caused by damage to the lung tissues due to inhaling asbestos particles. It can result in respiratory issues and chest pain.
- Lung cancer – cancer that develops within the lung itself rather than the pleura (the membrane that lines the lung) due to breathing in asbestos.
- Pleural plaques and thickening – areas of lung tissue that become thick or hardened due to asbestos exposure, which places pressure against the lungs.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of 3,127 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed in the U.S. each year. Sadly, there is no known cure for mesothelioma. The average life expectancy for someone who is diagnosed with mesothelioma is 12 to 21 months, with treatment.
Boiler Workers and Asbestos Exposure
No level or amount of exposure to asbestos is safe, according to the National Cancer Institute. Even one instance of asbestos exposure could lead to the development of cancer or other health issues. However, studies suggest that an individual’s risk of mesothelioma corresponds with his or her amount of asbestos exposure. Those who are exposed to asbestos regularly, such as on the job as a boiler worker, are at a higher risk.
Certain occupations come with a high risk of asbestos exposure and related diseases. These occupations either deal directly with asbestos, such as asbestos miners and asbestos abatement professionals, or they involve products that contain asbestos. Some of the most common products that have asbestos as an ingredient are those that need to be resistant to heat. Asbestos is very common in boilers, boiler rooms and the environment of the average boiler worker.
Boiler workers may have been exposed to asbestos when particles present in the boiler or equipment were disturbed, such as a worker cutting into asbestos insulation that covers many boiler pipes. This could release asbestos dust into the air, putting workers at risk of ingesting or inhaling asbestos fibers. Boiler rooms themselves were typically small, poorly ventilated and contained other asbestos materials, such as cement supports.
Locations and work environments where boiler workers may have been exposed to asbestos include boiler rooms, engine rooms, factories, power plants, chemical plants, commercial buildings and basements. The at-risk workers include not only boiler workers and operators, but boilermakers, repair and maintenance workers, insulation workers, HVAC workers, oil refinery workers, pipefitters, shipyard workers, and members of the military.
When Was Asbestos Last Used in Boilers?
The risk of asbestos exposure to boiler workers stems from asbestos being present in many of the products, tools, gear and equipment used in this occupation. Asbestos was relied upon for its natural resistance to fire, heat and corrosion – making it an effective boiler insulator. It was the industry standard to use asbestos in sectional boilers before asbestos was regulated by the federal government and banned for use in pipe and block insulation in 1975.
Examples of the many products that boiler workers may have come into contact with that could contain asbestos are:
- Adhesives on pipe connections
- Asbestos rope
- Boiler tank wraps
- Cement lining
- Cement supports
- Flame-resistant bricks
- Floor and ceiling boiler room protection
- Heat jackets and gear
- Pipe and boiler insulation
- Steam traps
Today, many boilers that are in use still contain asbestos products, such as asbestos insulation. Any boiler that was manufactured prior to the 1980s may contain asbestos. However, even new boilers could contain asbestos in their insulation to protect the inner liner from heat. Modern boiler workers and boilermakers should be given personal protective equipment by their employers to prevent exposure to asbestos.
Manufacturers of Asbestos Boiler Products
Most boilermakers and manufacturers have a long history of using asbestos in their products. Asbestos was affordable and easily obtained, and was therefore incorporated into many products.
Manufacturers of asbestos boilers include:
- American Standard, Inc.
- Armstrong International, Inc.
- Asbestos Corporation Limited
- Babcock & Wilcox
- Bath Iron Works
- Burnham Corporation
- Combustion Engineering
- Crown Boiler Company
- Foster Wheeler Corporation
- Ingersoll Rand Company
- John Crane Inc.
- Murray Boiler LLC
- Pecora Corporation
- Riley Stoker Corporation
- Yarway Corporation
These companies and others are currently facing litigation for exposing workers and the public to asbestos through their contaminated boilers and boiler parts.
Contact Bailey & Glasser, LLP
It may be possible to hold a boiler manufacturing company responsible for exposing you or a loved one to asbestos by filing a lawsuit. You may also be able to seek compensation from an employer. Even if an old employer has gone bankrupt or out of business, you may qualify for compensation through an asbestos trust fund.
The attorneys at Bailey & Glasser, LLP have represented clients in asbestos and mesothelioma lawsuits for many years. If you have worked with boilers or as a boilermaker and were unknowingly exposed to asbestos, we can help you seek justice and maximum financial compensation for your losses after being diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease. Call (866) 871-7971 for a free consultation.