Plumbers and Mesothelioma

Plumbers and Mesothelioma

If you are a plumber and mesothelioma has impacted your life, you may be eligible for compensation. Read on to learn more or contact our office today. More than 500,000 people currently hold jobs as plumbers, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports Plumbers have water and sewer systems expertise for residential, commercial, industrial, and public properties. Plumbers work with many materials—piping and all other materials needed to build a structure. However, before the 1980s, many of the materials used by plumbers suffered from a severe defects. Specifically, they contained the carcinogenic mineral asbestos.

While most pipes are safe, there are several ways plumbers can inhale asbestos without even knowing. Cement pipes laced with asbestos are one-way plumbers experience asbestos exposure. Cement pipes are safe, but if the building process damages the pipes, fine dust gets loose, putting plumbers at risk of inhaling asbestos.

Plumbers that inhaled or swallowed asbestos can develop:

  • mesothelioma
  • asbestos lung cancer
  • asbestosis
  • or other conditions scientifically linked to occupational asbestos exposure.

No one wants to receive a diagnosis of mesothelioma or another asbestos disease, especially decades after the event that exposed them to asbestos in the first place. The diseases are often deadly and painful. Thankfully, if you reach out and work with a good lawyer, you can receive compensation that will put your mind at ease.

Who Qualifies as a Plumber?

A plumber is an individual who sets up systems where water can be brought into a building from the city's water facility. A plumber also sets up systems where wastewater is carried away from the structure or property and fed into an underground sewer line or septic tank. Tasks typically performed by plumbers include:

  • Pipe installation and repair
  • Sink, bathtub, shower, faucet, and toilet installation
  • Water heater, icemaker, and dishwasher connection
  • Sewer and septic connection and repair

Plumbers and Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos was used in these products because it made for a cheap yet effective way to insulate and fireproof them. Asbestos blankets or sprays helped to prevent the pipes from bursting. In unprotected pipes, cold air temperatures penetrate the piping and cause the water inside to freeze. The frozen water would create a backup that would eventually cause the entire line to burst. Asbestos prevented pipes from bursting, saving homeowners thousands of dollars. The opposite was true because asbestos is also very resistant to heat and can keep water warm when it flows into and out of a hot water tank. However, despite these advantages, asbestos soon became a problem for plumbers. Added to many building materials between the 40s and 90s, plumbers experienced asbestos exposure on the job. These products are:

  • Boilers
  • Tanks
  • Pumps
  • Pipes
  • Welding rods
  • Pipe coatings
  • Gaskets
  • Valves
  • Pipe block
  • Joint compounds
  • Ducts
  • Cement
  • Paints

The trouble with asbestos is that it can't be disturbed. Every time a piece of asbestos-lined piping was cut, threaded, filed, hammered, drilled, or fastened, it would disturb the asbestos, and the fibers would rise and go into the air. Asbestos is like dust; it remains in the mood for hours or even days before it slides back down to the floor. Even if the asbestos was back on the floor, one draft caused by an open window or a human could send it back into the air again! For plumbers in the area, it was easy for them to breathe in or swallow some asbestos particles, and this was dangerous for plumbers because it was possible to breathe or swallow some of the floating asbestos particles. Even more concerning, plumbers often work in smaller spaces with low air quality.

What Happens if a Plumber Inhales Asbestos?

Asbestos fibers entering a plumber's body through the nose or mouth usually became permanently embedded within the lungs or intestines, unable to be dislodged by the body. Decades later the plumber would begin experiencing symptoms such as a cough that would not go away or a sudden, significant weight loss. A visit to the doctor would then (but not always) yield a diagnosis of mesothelioma or asbestos lung cancer.

Plumbers and Asbestos Exposure From Non-Plumbing Building Materials

From 1940 through the end of the 1970s, Plumbers routinely worked around products containing asbestos. Most of these products were items used not by plumbers but by other tradespeople. The list includes:

  • Drywall
  • Insulation
  • Ceiling and floor tiles
  • Spackle
  • Decorative plaster

Of these materials, one that was among those most frequently encountered by plumbers was drywall. Typically, during construction, pipes would go in first, then drywall would follow. However, to lay pipes or access existing plumbing systems in old structures, plumbers will cut into already installed drywall. This cutting is what created the risk of asbestos exposure. Before the 1980s, drywall was enhanced with asbestos to make each sheet stronger, lighter, noise-absorbent, and less conducive to hot and cold temperatures. Asbestos also helped make it more likely the drywall would survive a fire.

Cutting into this asbestos drywall was a disturbance and sent all the tiny particles of asbestos up into the air. Then the plumber and anyone else in the vicinity would be exposed. Exposure means asbestos fibers in the air can find their way into the plumber's lungs or intestines whenever the particles were inhaled or ingested. The particles will penetrate the lungs or intestines and stay permanently locked. They would start to spread into the healthy cells and try to turn them into cancer cells, and while the process would be slow, it wouldn't stop.

Ten to 60 or more years later, harmful changes to the cells that line the lungs and the abdominal cavity might commence. Those changes could bring about Mesothelioma, asbestos lung cancer, asbestosis, or other asbestos-related condition.

Plumbers and Asbestos Exposure From Power Tools

In the 1980s, plumbing tools created very hard to handle the heat. Without asbestos, the devices would often burn the plumber's hands. However, the asbestos didn't stay inside the tool. Regular operation of the device tended to cause enough wear that small asbestos fragments went into the air. The airborne asbestos can float for hours until someone breathes it in or inhales it, and then the fibers lodge into the body and start the slow process of changing your cells.

Plumbers and Asbestos Exposure from Working Alongside Other Trades

Belonging to a construction crew was another way plumbers experienced asbestos exposure. Up until the 1970s, crews consisting of electricians, painters, insulation installers, bricklayers, and other trades worked with specialty products made in part from asbestos. Those crewmembers cut, drilled, hammered, and drove screws, the same as did plumbers. Every cut, bore, swing of the mallet, and turning of the threads came the release of asbestos.

Plumbers and Asbestos Exposure from Cement Pipe

Some plumbers from the years after World War II until the 1970s worked with transit pipe—pipe made of cement with asbestos mixed in. Transite pipe was stronger than conventional, non-asbestos cement pipe. Being stronger made it popular for underground water mains, sewer lines, and street runoff lines. By 1980, plumbers had laid more than a half-million miles of transite pipe across the U.S.). However, like any other product containing asbestos, transite pipe became a health hazard to plumbers mainly when it was cut or drilled during an installation, repair, or removal. Once airborne, asbestos fibers can be inhaled and swallowed by unsuspecting plumbers.

Plumbers and Mesothelioma Risks

Inhaling or ingesting asbestos particles causes them to be drawn deep inside the lungs or intestines. The deeper they travel, the less likely they can ever come back out.
And the longer those particles remain trapped within the body, the more time they have to cause damage to healthy cells. Asbestos molecules are so tiny that they are embedded in healthy cells, the lungs, and heart linings and slowly and steadily wreak havoc on your health.

Plumber Rights to Compensation After Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos exposure can cause Mesothelioma, asbestos lung cancer, asbestosis, and several other adverse conditions. If a plumber can connect their asbestos-related disease to a company, they can start to reach out for compensation.

The compensation you and your loved ones could get could pay the cost of medical treatment, could pay you back for lost wages while ill, and for other types of specific and measurable damages.
Compensation can be sought by filing a lawsuit against the companies that exposed plumbers to asbestos. Plumbers stand a good chance of winning the case since a precedent has been set.

However, since most companies don't want to involve themselves in a costly and destructive public relations trial, they will often come to the plumber in question with a settlement to handle things out of court. This settlement is often pretty generous and can also be significant compensation for a plumber and their loved ones.

However, some asbestos companies file for bankruptcy, which protects them from personal injury lawsuits. Still, the government has forced them to set aside some money in a special 'asbestos trust' for plumbers who need compensation. You need to work with the right legal team to ensure you can get to that money. Contact us today to get started.

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If your health has been affected by exposure to asbestos, report it here.
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Disclaimer: Attorney Advertising. The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established. Additionally, we provide medical information that does not, nor is it intended to, replace professional medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. Prior results does not guarantee a similar outcome. This website and its contents are provided by The Meso Advisors at Bailey & Glasser, LLP.

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