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Blacksmiths - Mesothelioma Risks

When you think of a blacksmith, what picture comes to your mind? Most likely you envision someone from the 1700s or 1800s, slaving away near a fire pit with a few tools. While blacksmiths at one time looked like this, in today's world they are much more modern. Blacksmiths you might see today include artists and construction workers. The materials used are usually iron or steel, and the techniques and tools they use are quite different, but the idea is the same. A blacksmith is a person who shapes metal by heating it with a hot flame until it is burning red. He or she then forces the metal into the desired shape. With all of this heat, it was essential to use safety gear. Unfortunately, much of this safety gear contained asbestos, a harmful mineral material that causes a deadly cancer called mesothelioma.

Asbestos was great for blacksmith's safety gear because it did not conduct heat or catch on fire. It kept them separate from the heat and flames they worked with. The most common asbestos-laced safety product was the gloves, followed by masks and other protective clothing worn, such as a smock or coveralls. The fibers from the asbestos could be easily disturbed, making them go into the air where the blacksmith could easily breathe them in. When asbestos fibers are inhaled, they can wreak havoc on the body. Instead of being pushed through the system or broken down, these small fibers become trapped in the sensitive lining of the lung cavity, called the mesothelium.

Once in the mesothelium, the fibers cause irritation and scar tissue, as well as inflammation and fluid buildup. After a while, sometimes even decades, a mesothelioma tumor can develop. While researchers are still not clear on exactly how asbestos causes the tumor, there is a clear link between the two. Mesothelioma is a very deadly cancer, because it is usually not detected or diagnosed until the latest stages, when the cancer becomes unresponsive to treatment and has spread to multiple areas of the body. The life expectancy following diagnosis is usually only a few years; only 10 percent of patients will live beyond five years following a late-stage diagnosis.

It has been estimated that in a period of 40 years (1940-80), an estimated 27 million American workers had an occupational exposure to asbestos. Many of these people have already been diagnosed with mesothelioma and have passed away from it, and many more are still at risk. If you were a blacksmith during this time, make sure you see a doctor on a regular basis. Your doctor will be able to monitor your health and check for signs of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. It is also important to educate yourself on mesothelioma in case you develop it. Recognizing the signs early on can be the difference between life and death.

It is not your fault that you were exposed to asbestos—it is the fault of the negligent asbestos manufacturers who knew of the dangers and neglected to release the information out of fear that it would hurt their profits. Thousands have already sought the help of a lawyer to file lawsuits against these businesses, and you can too.


Workers at Risk for Asbestos Exposure

Below are a list of occupations and trades that were at risk for asbestos exposure:

Last Edited: Sun July 26, 2020