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Which workers are at most risk for developing mesothelioma?

Asbestos exposure among miners, millers, factory line workers and construction workers was relatively high until the 1960s and 1970s. Little did they know at the time just how deadly exposure to the mineral would prove to be later in life. It's largely due to the fact that asbestos has a latency period of 10 to 40 years that it's only now that the true harmful effects of exposure to it are being experienced by so many.

Data released by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) suggests that during the four decades leading up to 1980, as many as 27 million workers may have been exposed to asbestos fibers. Virtually any worker in any trade that you can think of was likely exposed to it, from electricians to plumbers, painters to mechanics and welders to shipyard workers.

Even in cases where individuals didn't work directly with the mineral, they still received secondary exposure to it by coming in contact with workers who did.

In terms of passive exposure, NIOSH contends that it's likely that workers exposed their friends and family members to the mineral because of there being limited industrial hygiene protocols in place. Often times, workers returning home from work would not have their clothes, skin or hair decontaminated to remove traces of the mineral. This resulted in it being circulated through the air.

One study conducted in the 1990s showed that those living with individuals who regularly worked with asbestos were twice as likely to die from cancer than anyone else. That same study also revealed that, among 115 cases examined in which loved ones of asbestos employees had died, four had pleural mesothelioma when they passed on.

Although it's been outlawed for several decades now, the American Thoracic Society contends that over one million maintenance and construction workers continue to be exposed to asbestos every year. Most often they're exposed to the harmful mineral while renovating older homes or buildings.

If you believe that your earlier exposure to asbestos while on the job has resulted in your current decline in health, then a Madison County, Illinois mesothelioma attorney can advise you of legal options available to you.

Source: Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, "Asbestos toxicity: Who is at risk of exposure to asbestos?," accessed Feb. 16, 2018

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