Construction Workers & Mesothelioma
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral made up of long thin crystals that can be mixed into many different types of materials. Its versatility, durability and resistance to heat, fire and corrosion made it especially popular in the construction industry.
Because so many building materials contained asbestos, mesothelioma in construction workers is more common than it is for other occupations. It's important for workers in this industry to be familiar with the risks of asbestos exposure and the compensation that may be available to them if they develop mesothelioma.
Understanding the Risk of Asbestos Exposure
Asbestos was used extensively in the construction industry from the 1940s until the early 1980s. Around 1980 the industry began phasing out asbestos products, however it remains legal to import and use materials with less than 1% asbestos.
When these products are damaged or deteriorate over time, they may release asbestos fibers into the air. Asbestos fibers can be hazardous because they can become lodged in the lungs, or travel to other parts of the body. Over time, the fibers irritate the surrounding tissue and can, in some instances, lead to cancer. That's how mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases develop.
How Construction Workers Develop Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma in construction workers is unfortunately relatively common. In one study, nearly 24% of those whose mesothelioma was traced to occupational exposure had worked in the construction industry.1 Another found that just over 26% of mesothelioma cases involved occupational exposure in the construction industry.2 There is even a study of construction workers that ranked breathing in asbestos fibers as the most significant factor that affects their health.3
If construction workers inhale asbestos fibers, it can take decades for illnesses to develop. One study of construction workers found it took an average of 43.9 years from exposure to mesothelioma diagnosis. In more than 75% of cases the exposure happened from the 1940s to 1970, over a period of more than 20 years.4
Asbestos Products Used by Construction Workers
Construction workers may be exposed to asbestos by handling asbestos products. Many of these products contained asbestos if they were produced before the early 1980s:
- Boilers and water heaters
- Ceiling tiles
- Cement products
- Electrical systems
- Floor tiles
- Joint compound
- Paper backing
- Patching compound
- Pipe wrapping
- Popcorn ceilings
- Roofing materials
- Spray-on coatings
- Textured paint
- Vinyl and linoleum flooring
Asbestos construction materials are no longer produced in the U.S. and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned new products containing asbestos in 1989. However, there is no complete asbestos ban in the U.S.
At-Risk Trades Within the Construction Industry
Occupational exposure is the most common way people encounter asbestos. For construction workers, mesothelioma may be even more of a risk than it is for other occupations. These are the most high-risk jobs in construction:
- Demolition crews
- Drywall hangers
- Heavy machinery operators
- Masonry workers
- Sheet metal workers
- Tile setters
Mesothelioma in construction workers’ families is also not uncommon. Workers would frequently bring home dust that could contain asbestos fibers on their shoes, clothing and even in their hair. Other members of the household were susceptible to breathing in this asbestos dust, putting them at risk for mesothelioma. Heather Von St. James, an 18-year mesothelioma survivor, was a victim of secondhand asbestos exposure.
Today, there are safety regulations in place to help ensure workers don’t bring asbestos home.
Compensation for Construction Workers With Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma doesn’t just affect your health. It can also drain your finances. This is why it’s so important for construction workers with mesothelioma to know their options for receiving compensation for their injury.
Mesothelioma is considered a work-related injury if it’s directly related to asbestos exposure on the job, which means you may be eligible for workers’ compensation. However, workers’ comp laws vary widely by state. It's worth looking into the laws in your state, and an experienced attorney can help you do so.
If the company responsible for your exposure has declared bankruptcy, it's possible that they created an asbestos trust fund to make payouts to victims.
This includes companies like Harbison-Walker Refractories Co., U.S. Gypsum Company, W.R. Grace & Co., and many others. An attorney can help you determine if your on-the-job asbestos exposure is connected to a company with an asbestos trust fund. They can help you complete the application process and ensure you get your funds quickly.
Construction workers with mesothelioma can also file personal injury lawsuits. These mesothelioma claims are an important source of compensation for any workers who faced occupational asbestos exposure. Your claim will need to prove not only that you were exposed to asbestos but also that the exposure led to your mesothelioma diagnosis.
It's important to hire a mesothelioma law firm with an established track record in handling construction worker mesothelioma cases. At Early, Lucarelli, Sweeney and Meisenkothen we have decades of experience and a dedicated team ready to fight for you.
We’ve won many mesothelioma lawsuits, including $8.9 million for a construction worker in California, $4 million for an insulator in Florida and $3.6 million for a construction worker in Pennsylvania. If you've received a mesothelioma diagnosis after working in construction, contact us today for a free case evaluation.
How are construction workers exposed to asbestos?
Construction workers can be exposed to asbestos from the materials they work with on the job, for example adhesives, cement, drywall, flooring and roofing. Construction materials made before the early 1980s are more likely to contain asbestos in higher concentrations. Workers who handled these materials during their installation or during renovations could be exposed.
What causes mesothelioma in construction workers?
Mesothelioma is a rare cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos. Most mesothelioma patients were exposed on the job, including construction workers. This disease is often diagnosed decades after exposure took place. If you think your mesothelioma diagnosis is related to asbestos exposure on the job in construction or elsewhere, our attorneys can provide a free case evaluation to see if you may be eligible for financial assistance.
- Binazzi, A, Di Marzio, D, et al. Int J Environ Res Public Health. Jan 2022, 19(1): 235. doi:10.3390/ijerph19010235
- Merler, E, Bressan, V, et al. La Medicina del Lavoro, Mar 2009, 100(2):120-132. Available at https://europepmc.org/article/MED/19382522
- Sharafadeen, O, Owolabi, B, et al. IOSR-JHSS. May 2018, 23(5):56-62. Available at https://www.iosrjournals.org/iosr-jhss/papers/Vol.%2023%20Issue5/Version-3/H2305035662.pdf
- Vimercati, L, Cavone, D, et al. BMC Res Notes. 2019, 12:636. doi: 10.1186/s13104-019-4675-4
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