Medical Assistance

Telephone Repair Men - Mesothelioma Risks

When the population was booming in the 40s and 50s, millions of telephone lines went up to satisfy the growing numbers as well as to extend service out to the suburbs. Telephone lines are coated with insulation to protect them from the elements, as well as to make them last as long as possible. Much of this insulation contained asbestos, a commonly used material that provided insulation and fireproofing for a variety of products.

Asbestos was ideal for use in telephone lines, as a good insulator against heat and electricity. It was also made the lines fireproof, yet another added benefit. Unfortunately, it was unknown at the time that asbestos is actually very dangerous, not to the telephone lines, but to people who worked with and around them. Asbestos is the cause of a rare cancer known as mesothelioma, and telephone repair men around the United States have been affected by it.

Mesothelioma becomes more of a risk the more exposed the person is to asbestos over the years. Prolonged occupational exposure will put someone at greater risk, but it is generally understood that there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos - anyone who has had any level of exposure can contract mesothelioma. Although telephone repair men are not directly exposed every day while doing their jobs, the threat is still there, and they can be exposed more than they realize. Common activities that can create asbestos exposure for telephone repair men include tearing through sheetrock and siding to get access to a line, or splitting lines and wires for reattachment and installment. All of these activities can potentially release asbestos fibers, and if the repair man is not wearing a respirator and other protective gear, the fibers can become a large risk.

When asbestos fibers are breathed in, they usually do not come out. Instead, they become trapped in the body, specifically in the mesothelium, a membrane that lines the vital organs. The fibers can also become trapped in the lungs, expelling toxic chemicals that do significant damage to the body. Asbestos is a fibrous material, and its microscopic fibers can be sharp. They can cause scar tissue and inflammation along the mesothelium, as well as fluid buildup that puts pressure on the lungs and other organs. Even if a person does not develop mesothelioma, they are still at risk for other asbestos diseases and respiratory problems, of which there are many.

Mesothelioma is a cancer that may not develop until many years after exposure to asbestos. It develops slowly, often not showing signs or significant symptoms until it has developed to an advanced stage of cancer. Due to this, many people who are diagnosed with mesothelioma are older, in their 50s, 60s and 70s. More than 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year; the number is on the rise, and we are reaching the time when it should begin to develop following its peak usage in the 1960s and 70s. Telephone repair men may still be at risk, because many older homes and telephone lines still contain asbestos insulation. Taking proper safety precautions is a must, as well as regular visits with a physician to monitor health and risks for mesothelioma.


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