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Demolition and Wrecking Crews - Mesothelioma Risks

When construction crews first started using asbestos in buildings, it was considered one of the best materials for construction. It was able to withstand large amounts of pressure and heat, making it the perfect solution for insulation and piping especially. Asbestos could also be found in paint, clothing, siding, ceiling materials and a variety of household products. While the asbestos made buildings safer, it was actually very harmful, especially when it came time to tear the buildings down.

From small homes to large industrial buildings, asbestos can still be found in more than 700,000 buildings around the United States. However, asbestos poses a huge threat to those who come in contact with it, and one of the riskiest times for asbestos exposure is when these buildings and homes are being torn down. Demolition and wrecking crews are almost always at risk for asbestos exposure, which can lead to the development of the rare cancer mesothelioma.

Asbestos is the most dangerous when the fibers are disturbed, being released in the air for us to breathe unknowingly. This can happen what something is shaken, moved, or just starts getting old and disintegrating. When a demolition and wrecking crew comes in to tear down a building, you can only imagine the amount of asbestos released into the air when it happens. Many crews wear safety gear during the process, but neglect to wear them later on, when the fibers are still prevalent in the air. It is because of this that many former demolition and wrecking crew workers are at risk for mesothelioma today.

These small fibers may seem harmless, but they can do extensive damage to the body. When asbestos fibers are inhaled, they become trapped in the lungs and the outer lining of the lungs, called the mesothelium. They stay there for years, slowly collecting with each asbestos exposure. The fibers are sharp, and cause inflammation and irritation to these tissues. They may interrupt cell function and cause fluid to build up between the layers and linings, which causes further breathing problems and pain.

Years later, these fibers can be the cause of a malignant mesothelioma tumor, although the exact amount of time between exposure and tumor development is not yet known. Some patients present with mesothelioma up to 50 years following exposure, which is the reason it is so dangerous in the first place. Mesothelioma, as a cancer, is not visible on the outside. There are no clear signs that point to it, or make someone suspicious of cancer. Symptoms of mesothelioma are similar to those of other illnesses, such as pneumonia. Even a doctor with years of experience may not suspect mesothelioma until extensive testing is done. It is important for former demolition and wrecking crews to see a doctor regularly to have testing done for mesothelioma. If caught early on, it can be the difference between life and death.

Even today, demolition and wrecking crews can be at risk for asbestos exposure on the job. The proper way to remove asbestos from a building is called abatement, but it is rarely done because of its high cost. Building owners would rather get rid of the entire building all at once. If you are a current demolition or wrecking crew worker, it is important to take extreme measures to stay safe and use precaution on the job when it comes to asbestos.

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Workers at Risk for Asbestos Exposure

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

Last Edited: Thu November 14, 2013