Veterans Assistance

Factory Workers - Mesothelioma Risks

Since asbestos was an almost indispensable material in all different kinds of factories, and was used throughout the twentieth century, anyone who has spent time working in a factory environment should educate themselves about the dangers of asbestos and the symptoms of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma.

Asbestos is an extremely fire- and heatproof material, which is also lightweight and durable. Not only can it be woven into cloth, it can also be integrated into building materials such as concrete, insulation products, drywall and joint compound. In fact, asbestos is one of the most versatile materials around. For this reason, nearly three thousand commercial, industrial and residential products have incorporated asbestos in some capacity.

Some of the common uses for asbestos in factories include insulation for pipes and electrical systems, sprayed insulation on steelwork and soffits, asbestos cement sheeting, protective gear for workers, and many, many more.

Factory workers have an elevated risk of asbestos diseases, including mesothelioma - an extremely rare cancer which affects the mesothelium. The mesothelium is a membrane which surrounds and protects the lungs, heart and stomach, and which also lines the chest and abdominal cavities. When a person is exposed to asbestos, particularly on a prolonged or repeated basis, the microscopic fibers of the asbestos can become airborne and respirable, eventually becoming lodged in the mesothelium, lungs and other organs.

Mesothelioma is an unusual disease in that it can take up to 50 years to become symptomatic. A person may contract the cancer, yet not be aware of it until decades later. Unfortunately, by the time the mesothelioma symptoms are correctly diagnosed - they are often misread as the symptoms of bronchitis, emphysema or another respiratory illness - the cancer has usually progressed to an advanced stage.

Some of the symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, coughing up blood, fatigue and chest pain. A history of work with asbestos should be reported to your health care physician, especially if you are experiencing any of these or similar symptoms.

If mesothelioma is diagnosed early, surgery may be an option to remove the tumor. If not, however, chemotherapy and radiation therapy can be used, either alone or in combination, in order to shrink the tumor and stop it from spreading. Additionally, a procedure called "thoracentesis" can be performed. In this procedure, a thin needle with a catheter attached is inserted into the chest cavity in order to extract excess pleural fluid. Thoracentesis can help improve the patient's breathing and alleviate pain.

Asbestos's heyday lasted from the 1930s to the 1970s. Combine this with mesothelioma's extremely long latency period, and the number of cases of the disease worldwide is expected to peak by the year 2017. If you feel that you may have been exposed to asbestos while you were on the job in a factory - whether you worked on the line or as a foreman - it would behoove you to learn more about this deadly carcinogen and the symptoms of its associated diseases.


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