Overview of the Industrial Plant Worker Trade
Industrial plant workers are tradesman who must often do the "heavy lifting" within industry. Industrial plants are primarily responsible for the manufacture of goods at a mass production level, frequently employing mechanical or chemical processes along the way. Because of the wide range of items produced and tasks performed in such operations, industrial plant workers must apply their skills to a variety of different applications and situations. From the physical reshaping of materials using large scale joining, cutting and folding techniques, to liquefaction and molding, smelting and even electrolysis for plating or separating metals, industrial plant workers must oversee and assist the multifaceted tasks and technologies of each particular plant.
Despite the many different types of items or procedures involved at each plant, there are specific jobs and skills that are common to almost all of them. For example, the heavy machinery used in such operations requires installation, maintenance and repair. Pipes carrying liquid or gas (sometimes at extreme temperatures) require similar work. And basic carpentry and welding projects are constantly occurring as the general upkeep of each plant is maintained. But regardless of the diversity of activities undertaken from plant to plant, industrial plant workers are all at risk of contracting crippling and lethal diseases due to a high risk of asbestos exposure. We shall take a closer look at these risks in the next section.
Industrial Plant Workers Are at Risk for Asbestos Exposure on the Job
All kinds of asbestos can lead to dangerous and deadly diseases such as mesothelioma and lung cancer if its fibers are released into the air as dust particles and subsequently inhaled. In the most alarming and dangerous of cases, asbestos was mixed into a plant's industrial products; and since the lethality of asbestos was not itself widely known and protected against until the 1970's, this toxic ingredient would sometimes be used freely without any precautions and workers were unknowingly exposed to it. The prevalence of asbestos-containing materials (ACM) in industrial plants put industrial plant workers at tremendous risk, as asbestos containing materials in pipes and gaskets, boilers and blast furnaces, walls, floors, and ceilings was released through the cutting, sanding, sawing, shaping, scraping, drilling and pulverizing work that takes place in industrial plants. In many industrial plants, the health hazards to toxic asbestos inhalation were unknown or under-reported for decades, leading many of its workers to engage in perilous day-to-day labors without adequate (or any) protective gear.
Industrial Plant Workers Use a Variety of Asbestos Products
The following is a list of products known to contain asbestos that industrial plant workers may have come into contact with. Where known, the years during which the product was manufactured is listed in parentheses:
A.P. Green Insulation Adhesive (1947-1972), A.P. Green Castable Mix (1955-1972), A.P. Green Greencast (1967-1972), A.P. Green Lo Abrade GR (1966-1972), A.P. Green MC-30 (1966-1972), A.P. Green No. 36 Refractory Cement, A.P. Green Kast-O-Lite (late 30's-early 70's), Eagle-Picher Industries DE No. 85 Block (1947-1953), Eagle-Picher Industries DE No. 95 Block (1949-1953), Eagle-Picher Industries Vercel Block (1937-1944), Harbison-Walker Chromepak G (early-mid 1960's), Harbison-Walker/Dresser Guidon, Harbison-Walker/Dresser H-W 16-76, Harbison-Walker/Dresser H-W Lightweight Castable (1955-1975), Harbison-Walker/Dresser Metalkase Chromex B (1964-1970), Harbison-Walker/Dresser Metalkase H-W 31-73 (1973-1980), Harbison-Walker/Dresser Micacrete 7, Harbison-Walker/Dresser Oxibak H, Kaiser K-N Plastic Chrome Ore (1970's), Kaiser V-Block, MH Detrick Calcrete (1950-1964), MH Detrick Griptex Mineral Wool Block (1956-1964), NARCO Aerogun (1971-1979), NARCO Anti-Erode (1963-1977), NARCO BOF-Cote (1966-1975), NARCO BOF-Patch (1965-1975), NARCO CM Gun Mix (1963-1973), NARCO CM-18 Gun Mix (1963-1977), Narcocast Es Fine Trowel (1963-1977), Narcocrete Trowel (1963-1977), Narcogan MCD-344 (1964-1975), Narcogun CM-343 (1964-1977), Narcolite (1961-1977), NARCO Narmag 60 DBRC (1970-1980), NARCO Narcmag OH Gun Mix (1974-1976), NARCO Super 505 Hot Gun C (1964-1977), NARCO WO-339 McGun (1964-1975), NARCO Staz-on Cement, NARCO Uni-Cote Cement, NARCO Plisulate Insulation, Quigley Insulag, Quigley Insuline (1935-?), Quigley Insulbox (1970-1974), Quigley Panelag (1940-1974), Quigley Panelbond and Quigley Panels (1940-1974).
Atlas Turner Pipe (1958-?), Johns Manville Corporation Piping Products.
Atlas Turner Monobestos (1948-1975), Raymark/Raytech/Raybestos Master Size Elastomer-Coated Asbestos Sleeve, Raymark Cable Filler (1938-1982) and United States Gypsum Company USG Thermalux (Generic) (1961-1965).
Pipe Covering and Block
Armstrong World Industries Nonpareil High Pressure Covering Block (1909-1932), Atlas Turner Aircell (1950-?), Atlas Turner Finecell (1950-1970), Atlas Turner Simplex (1950-1969), Atlas Turner, Inc. Newtherm (1964-1974), Atlas Asbestos Atlasite, Carey Pipe Insulation, Carey Lennolite (1935-1969), Carey Super-Light 85% Magnesia (1951-1958), Celotex Corporation Defendex Pipe Covering (1906-1970), Celotex Corporation Excel PB (Piping & Block) (1925-1960), Celotex Corporation Fyrex P (1964-1970), Celotex Corporation Glosscell PB (1935-1960), Eagle Picher 85% Magnesia Pipe Cover. (1956-1960), Eagle-Picher Tab-Lok Pipe Insulation, Fibreboard Corp./Pabco 85% Magnesia, Fibreboard Pabco Super Caltemp Insulation (mid 60's-early 70's), GAF/Ruberoid Eternit Pressure Pipe, GAF/Ruberoid Celasbestos (1928-1958), GAF Pipecovering Insulation (1928-1959), GAF/Ruberoid Watcocell/Supercell Sheets & Block (1928-1962), Johns Manville Corporation Pipe Covering Products, Johns Manville Corporation Block Insulation Products, Keasbey & Mattison K&M Pipe Insulation, Keasbey & Mattison K&M Hy-Temp Blocks, Keene Corporation Ehret Pipe Covering, Keene Corporation Durant Insulated Pip Covering (1938-1945), Keene Corporation Enduro Pipe Covering Block & Cement (1924-1955), Keene (Ehret) 85% Magnesia (1904-1964), Keene Corporation Mono-Block (1941-1968), Keene Corporation Thermalite (1901-1963), Keene Corporation Thermasil (1956-1972), Keene Corporation Mundet, MH Detrick Griptex (1956-1964), M.H. Detrick Block Insulation (1936-1956), National Gypsum Company Flexfelt, National Gypsum Company Asbestos Jackets for Pipecovering (1941-1945), Owens-Corning Kaylo Insulation (mid 50's-mid 70's), United States Gypsum Company USG Pipecoverings, United States Gypsum Company Pyrobestos PC Board & Stack Lining, USG Corrugated Cool Felt Air C. Covering, and USG Rigid Block Insulations (Generic).
Mesothelioma, Lung Cancer and Asbestosis are Common Diseases Contracted by Industrial Plant Workers
Even though the correlation between asbestos cancer such as asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma was discovered in 1960, production of asbestos-containing materials (ACM) continued to increase through the next fifteen years. Sadly, it wasn't until the mid-70's that the risks and consequences of asbestos exposure were widely known and regulated. And since it often takes up to fifty years between one's exposure to asbestos and the onset of asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma, diagnoses of these diseases are now on the rise across the nation. Experts also anticipate these diagnoses to increase further in the next ten to twenty years. Family members of industrial plant workers are also in danger, as harmful asbestos dust were brought into the household via unwashed clothes, skin, shoes and/or hair. Many stay-at-home spouses have contracted asbestos related diseases through the laundering of asbestos-laden linens, for example. Let's take a closer look at the causes, signs and symptoms of each disease:
Mesothelioma is a malignant cancer that occurs in the mesothelium, which is a membrane that forms the lining of many body cavities, including the abdomen, heart and chest. When it occurs in the chest (about 75 percent of the time), it is referred to as pleural mesothelioma, and when it appears in the stomach it is called peritoneal mesothelioma. Sometimes mesothelioma can also appear in the lining near the heart, in which case it is known as pericardial mesothelioma. Wherever they may occur, malignant mesothelioma tumors are extremely aggressive and can metastasize quickly to other parts of the body, leading to a poor prognosis for most patients. Approximately 3,000 U.S. patients are diagnosed with mesothelioma every year.
The lining of your chest consists of two layers, between which is a minute quantity of lubricating fluid the permits your chest and lungs to expand and contract as you inhale and exhale. At the onset of pleural mesothelioma, this lining of the chest scars and thickens, filling the space between the layers and frequently producing large amounts of additional fluid. Common symptoms of malignant pleural mesothelioma include loss of appetite, unwanted weight loss, shortness of breath, weakness, fatigue, lower back pain, coughing and difficulty swallowing. This disease is often in its advanced stages when its symptoms are finally accurately diagnosed.
As with the lining in your chest, your abdominal cavity also consists of two layers that are covered by a lining. At the onset of peritoneal mesothelioma, a tumor develops within this lining, causing it to thicken around your abdominal organs. Fluid production increases greatly, which in turn leads to abdominal swelling. Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include loss of appetite and/or weight, weakness, nausea, and abdominal pains that accompany the abdominal swelling.
A scarring and cancerous tumor in the tissue around the heart, pericardial mesothelioma is the rarest of the three kinds of mesothelioma and only accounts for less than ten percent of its incidences. Chest pain, palpitations, a persistent cough and shortness of breath are all symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma. Like other mesothelioma tumors, pericardial mesothelioma can quickly metastasize and spread elsewhere into the body.
Lung Cancer (As Caused By Past Asbestos Exposure)
Lung cancer is responsible for the majority of asbestos-related fatalities. Unlike mesothelioma cancer, which can only be contracted via exposure to asbestos, lung cancer can result from exposure to a variety of different substances. However, studies reveal that the deadly combination of asbestos exposure and cigarette smoking raises the risk of contracting lung cancer by up to ninety percent over non-smokers with asbestos exposure. As mentioned above, it usually takes at least ten years for plant workers who have been exposed to ACM to exhibit symptoms of lung cancer, and it is not uncommon for it to take up to thirty years for the disease to present. To further complicate matters, those who already may have asbestos related lung cancer can sometimes have no easily detectable symptoms. Nonetheless, shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, discomfort when breathing and/or swallowing, loss of appetite and/or weight, coughing up of mucus and blood, hoarseness, chest pain and anemia are all symptoms that can be indicative of lung cancer malignancy.
Asbestosis (A Respiratory Disease)
Much like mesothelioma, asbestosis also occurs exclusively as the result of working with and around ACM. Simply put, asbestosis is a respiratory disease in which the lungs are damaged, inflamed and scarred from the inhalation of harmful asbestos fibers and dust. This in turn can lead to a dry, crackling cough, shortness of breath and even complete respiratory failure. Symptoms of asbestosis usually occur between five to ten years after one's initial exposure to asbestos products. Unfortunately, over half of those who contract asbestosis go on to develop pleural plaques (a scarring of the lining of the lungs), and it is not uncommon for asbestosis sufferers to contract lung cancer or mesothelioma as well.