As an Illinois construction or other worker, your job may put you at serious risk for inhaling microscopic asbestos fibers every day. You likely already know that many industrial and consumer products contain asbestos because of not only its excellent insulating properties, but also its outstanding resistance to heat and flame. But did you know that continual inhalation of its virtually invisible fibers can kill you?
FindLaw explains that the problem with asbestos is that this naturally-occurring mineral breaks down over time. When it does, the result is not normal dust that you can avoid inhaling by wearing a dust mask, but rather sharp microscopic fibers that no dust mask can stop. You release these fibers every time your saw, sander, drill, screw driver, etc. disturbs the deteriorating asbestos. And since these fibers are lighter than air, they disperse over a wide area at the slightest breeze. Once inside your lungs, the asbestos builds up, leading to such debilitating and ultimately fatal diseases as asbestosis, mesothelioma and other cancers.
While few, if any, workers can completely avoid asbestos-containing materials, your greatest risk for asbestos exposure comes if you work as any of the following:
- A construction worker
- A pipefitter or welder
- A stonemason or bricklayer
- An auto mechanic, especially one who repairs brakes
- A shipbuilder
- A miner
You also face a high risk for asbestos exposure if you work as a firefighter, building contractor, building renovation or restoration demolition worker, etc. Virtually all buildings constructed before 1980 contain massive amounts of asbestos materials. Numerous laws and regulations have since severely restricted the amount of asbestos any product can contain, but many products today still contain supposedly safe levels of asbestos.
This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.