Veterans Assistance

Bulldozer Operators - Mesothelioma Risks

One of the most common places to find asbestos is in everyday structures. Most buildings built before the 1980s had asbestos insulation installed in some form or another - around hot water pipes, water boilers, in ceilings and walls, or in tiles. Schools, homes, and office buildings were all constructed with this highly efficient insulator.

In 1989, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) put a ban on most asbestos containing products and materials. Many building supervisors have since taken the proper measures to safely remove the asbestos that's on their property. However, a vast majority of buildings still have asbestos installed. As long as it is in good shape, this asbestos is not a danger to anyone that uses the buildings. However, if the asbestos is deteriorating or is somehow disturbed, it can immediately become dangerous.

The exact mechanisms by which asbestos causes mesothelioma are still unknown. Speculations have been made, but are as of yet unverified. However, the scientific community has come to a general consensus about the basic progression of the disease. When asbestos is disturbed, it becomes airborne, and tiny fibers can be inhaled or swallowed. These tiny fibers lodge themselves in the deepest parts of the lungs and in the mesothelium - the thin tissue that lines the lungs, heart, and abdomen. There, they cause damage that forces the cells of the mesothelium to grow uncontrollably. This growth creates a deadly tumor.

Unfortunately for bulldozer operators, many forms of asbestos pose a very large health risk. Although asbestos is very rarely used in any building materials anymore, it was used in hundreds of thousands of structures before the EPA ban took effect. Therefore, asbestos is most likely present in many demolition and renovation projects performed on older buildings. If this asbestos is bulldozed without the proper containment procedures being followed, it will be released into the air. The fact that bulldozer operators work outside in a well-ventilated environment helps to lower their asbestos concentration slightly, but not enough to ensure prevention of mesothelioma - even small amounts of asbestos exposure are known to cause the disease.

As an additional concern for bulldozer operators, since asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral, it can be found as a soil contaminant in many areas across the world. Any projects that involve digging or moving large amounts of soil in any of these areas will surely kick up dust into the air. This dust, if near an asbestos source, is likely to be heavily contaminated with the deadly fibers.

Bulldozer operators should talk to their employers and contractors about the dangers of asbestos and whether or not protection needs to be worn during different construction projects. If asbestos-containing materials are going to be cleared, or asbestos-contaminated earth needs to be moved, chances are that the operator should at least be wearing a respirator and gloves.

If you were a bulldozer operator in construction sites that you know contained asbestos, and you were not properly protected from contact with the material, you have probably been exposed to it. You are then at a greater risk of developing mesothelioma. Talk to your doctor about having regular check-ups on the health of your lungs - although mesothelioma is incurable, early detection will most likely translate to a good prognosis.


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