The greater the exposure the greater the risk. Learn more so you don’t become a statistic.
Industrial workers typically work with woods and metals in a production environment, such as a factory or warehouse. Trade laborers, machine operators, welders, millwrights, machine repairmen and mechanics are some of the most common types of industrial workers. However, many other blue collar jobs are considered industrial labor. Because of the nature of the work, a worker in one these fields are put at risk for developing mesothelioma, a disease caused by exposure to toxic minerals.
What is Mesothelioma?
The mesothelium is a membrane that protects vital organs. Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that originates in a person's mesothelium. In most cases, the cancer is caused by exposure to asbestos, which is a set of several different minerals mined from the ground.
Breathing large amounts of asbestos over time causes the mineral to accumulate in the lungs. General symptoms of mesothelioma are heavy sweating, fever, weight loss, loss of appetite, blood clots and fatigue. Other symptoms are present depending on where it originates. For instance, someone with cancer in the chest may experience chest pain, low back pain, coughing and difficulty breathing. Some patients report hoarseness and trouble swallowing food.
When the cancer originates around the abdomen, patients complain of abdominal pain, constipation, vomiting, nausea and swelling in the abdomen. Asbestos-related cancer of the heart (also called pericardial) can cause heart murmurs, chest pain, an irregular heart rhythm (also called arrhythmia) and trouble breathing.
It can take years for a person exposed to asbestos to develop symptoms. Once the disease sets in, it can spread, and there's no cure. People are most often treated with a combination of radiation therapy and chemotherapy. As with all cancers, it's best to catch this disease early. Therefore, anyone who suspects exposure to asbestos should be checked by a doctor. Mesothelioma could already be present, even in patients with no symptoms.
Health and Safety Risks for Industrial Workers
Until the 1970s, most workers in the United States who were exposed to asbestos worked in mining, construction, and industrial manufacturing. Since the 1970s, the U.S. government has attempted to make workplaces safer and reduce asbestos-related health risks. However, this does not mean the risk of exposure has been completely eliminated. In some occupations, there's still some exposure risk.
Because asbestos is heat resistant, it has often been used in construction. Industrial workers often work with products made from asbestos, especially in jobs that require the worker to use extreme heat. When these workers apply heat to asbestos-containing products, they are exposed to asbestos fibers. This exposure puts industrial workers at risk for developing mesothelioma cancer.
In general, airborne asbestos levels in industrial work spaces are higher than in other workplaces. Industrial workers who smoke tobacco put themselves at a greater risk for developing lung cancer than non-smokers.
In the U.S., employers are required by law to inform each worker of asbestos-related health and safety risks. Those who work with harmful materials must be trained by their employers. Those who work in industrial jobs should take safety precautions to minimize exposure risks. A worker who is worried about exposure should discuss specific safety and health precautions with his or her employer. Anyone who suspects an employer is violating health or safety regulations should contact OSHA or the U.S. Department of Labor.
Overall, the industrial worker is at a higher risk of asbestos exposure than those who work in other professions. Anyone who suspects asbestos exposure should seek a medical consultation. While there is no cure for mesothelioma, it can be treated with medicine, chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
Article By: Randy Worthing
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