Asbestos
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Welders - Mesothelioma Risks

Of all of the occupations at risk for asbestos exposure, it may be hard to believe that welding is even on the list. However, asbestos was actually very prominent in the welding industry. Asbestos is naturally fire and heat resistant, which made it valuable for occupations requiring protection from these elements, welding especially. Asbestos was added to welding rods and many other tools used to do the job. It was also added to the safety gear worn by welders, and may also have been in some of the protective clothing, such as aprons, jackets and gloves. While it did its job keeping welders safe from fire and heat, it was actually harming them in the process as well. Exposure to asbestos in a case like this is dangerous, because the asbestos fibers are easily released. Inhalation of these fibers can lead to a deadly cancer called mesothelioma.

During processes such as welding, asbestos fibers can be released from the objects and products they are contained in. When fibers become airborne, they can easily be inhaled or ingested by anyone nearby—and that means welders. Even though they are wearing protective headgear, the fibers can still come in around it. These fibers become embedded in the membrane that lines our vital organs, called the mesothelium; specifically, they will end up in the mesothelium around the lungs, and in the lungs themselves. Asbestos fibers are sharp and can cause massive amounts of scar tissue to develop around them.

The fibers can also cause fluid build up in and around the lungs, which impairs breathing function in the patient. A doctor may see this and diagnose it as pneumonia, which is a reason why mesothelioma can go undiagnosed for such a long time. When mesothelioma does develop, it can spread to other parts of the body. It is usually in its most advanced stages when diagnosed, because for so long patients do not recognize the symptoms, and doctors may treat it as something else. It is so rare that many doctors may be unaware of what mesothelioma looks like on an X-ray or even the common symptoms of it.

Mesothelioma affects more than 3,000 people each year. The cancer develops slowly—many of the people who will be diagnosed in the coming years were exposed upwards of 30 years ago, because that is how long it takes for mesothelioma to become evident in the body. It is a cancer that has stumped doctors and researchers for years. Asbestos is a carcinogen, which is what can ultimately lead to the cancer. Unhealthy lifestyles in addition to massive asbestos exposure can also contribute to its development; poor diets and heavy smoking makes the effects of the disease much worse.

Welders who may have had asbestos exposure are encouraged to make regular visits to their physician to go over any risks and start a routine for monitoring mesothelioma development. In the off chance that the tumor does develop, early detection can mean a much better outcome for the patient. Mesothelioma education is quickly becoming necessary for many people, especially those in high-risk occupations, like construction and welding. Mesothelioma could have been prevented and avoided were it not for the asbestos companies. Thousands of lawsuits have already been filed, and you can be a part of that as well. If you are seeking compensation, contact a personal injury attorney for a free consultation.

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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