Plumbers are particularly vulnerable to the hazardous effects of asbestos, a dangerous substance that can cause serious health issues such as mesothelioma. Exposure to asbestos can come from many sources, including but not limited to asphaltic cement pipes, pipe wrap insulation, and joint compounds. Plumbers and pipefitters are more likely to work with these materials than workers in other professions and thus put themselves at greater risk of developing asbestos-related diseases. Long-term exposure is linked with the highest probability of developing mesothelioma, but even brief contact with asbestos can be enough to trigger an adverse reaction in some cases.
You may be entitled to compensation if you are a plumber or pipefitter who developed mesothelioma after asbestos exposure. Contact us online or call (855) 744-1922 to start exploring your legal options today.
How Are Plumbers & Pipefitters Exposed to Asbestos?
Asbestos was historically employed in the construction of a variety of structures due to its fireproofing and thermal insulation properties. It could often be found lining pipes, boilers, ducts, tanks, or even used as an additive in cement. When plumbers carried out routine activities such as sawing, sanding, and cutting the asbestos-wrapped insulation material, drilling into asbestos-containing products, and joining pipes or sanding block insulation, microscopic fibers would be released into the air around them.
Plumbers and pipefitters are often tasked with cutting and drilling pipes to specified lengths and sizes for various locations in a home or other structure. Unfortunately, when asbestos-laden pipes are disturbed, dangerous fibers can be released. These particles, when inhaled, can accumulate in the lungs and cause inflammation, scarring, and ultimately mesothelioma cancer and other serious diseases.
Plumbers are also at risk of being exposed to asbestos when they work with pumps, valves, and gaskets that may contain the substance. In order to maintain pressurization and flow of liquids, these components need to be installed and secured with gaskets. Over time, the components can become worn out and need to be changed. During this process, the asbestos fibers present in these products can easily be inhaled by the professionals handling them. Even if only a small amount is inhaled, the damage caused by its presence can take years before manifesting itself in various diseases.
Asbestos Products Associated with Plumbing and Pipefitting
In the United States, plumbing and pipefitting tasks often require the use and repair of asbestos-containing products, as this dangerous substance was widely used in many components during the mid-20th century - primarily between the 1940s and 1970s. It is thus still commonly found in household parts, pipes, boilers, insulation materials, and other components of plumbing systems. Plumbers performing maintenance on these older components can be at risk of inhaling asbestos fibers if they are not properly protected from the harmful material.
Some examples of asbestos-containing materials that plumbers and pipefitters could encounter include:
- Heat shields
- Insulation materials
- Joint compounds
- Welding rods
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Manufacturers of asbestos-containing products have long been held liable for harm sustained by plumbers and pipefitters who were exposed to their materials, with legal cases dating back to the mid-1970s. Manufacturers are responsible for making sure their products do not contain hazardous levels of asbestos before they enter the market, but the reality is that many manufacturers were aware of the substance’s health risks and nonetheless decided to put profits over people.
Manufacturers of asbestos-containing products who have been held liable for injuries suffered by plumbers and pipefitters include:
- E.J. Bartells Company
- Celotex Corp.
- GAF Corp.
- Johns Manville
- Owens-Illinois Company
- Union Carbide
- Western MacArthur
How Asbestos Exposure Can Cause Mesothelioma in Plumbers and Pipefitters
Plumbing and pipefitting work has been strongly linked to an increased chance of developing mesothelioma, a rare, aggressive form of cancer that is almost solely caused by contact with asbestos. Asbestos exposure can not only cause mesothelioma, however. It can also lead to lung cancer, ovarian cancer, laryngeal cancer, and a slowly progressing respiratory condition known as asbestos. All of these diseases are serious illnesses that can have very severe repercussions on the health of individuals who have been exposed to asbestos.
Mesothelioma is specifically triggered by inhaling or ingesting microscopic particles of asbestos fibers, present in many materials encountered by plumbers, which can damage cells in the lungs and other organs. Over time, these damaged cells may develop into tumors that spread throughout the body, becoming lethal if left untreated. Unfortunately, asbestos-related illnesses such as mesothelioma have a latency period of up to 50 years from exposure before symptoms appear. This means that symptoms will appear many decades after initial exposure, so the resulting disease is often caught too late. Plumbers and pipefitters should generally assume they were at some point exposed to asbestos and get regular health screenings to check for these diseases, as catching them early can improve the prognosis and expand treatment options.
There are potentially several methods for obtaining compensation if you or a loved one developed mesothelioma or another asbestos-related illness. You may be able to file a claim with an asbestos bankruptcy trust or a personal injury claim against the responsible party. If your loved one has passed away due to mesothelioma or another terminal asbestos-related disease, you may be able to bring a wrongful death claim on their behalf.
At SWMW Law, our committed team of lawyers has handled complex mesothelioma and asbestos exposure cases in courts across the United States. We are driven to hold companies accountable for the pain and suffering they have caused plumbers, pipefitters, and their families – because people matter. Your story matters to us, which is why we will come to you wherever you are, review your situation, and walk you through your legal options. Our attorneys have secured over $750 million for our clients so far, and we are ready to put our experience to work for you as we fight for maximum compensation. We understand how to capably navigate the legal system and get you the justice you deserve.
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