Asbestos exposure, long known to cause mesothelioma, is a risk for HVAC workers. HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning and workers regularly handle materials known to contain asbestos. However, not all HVAC workers are trained to recognize and deal with the dangerous substance. The time from asbestos exposure to the time of mesothelioma development is often decades – many HVAC workers do not make the connection between their cancer and the exposure many years prior.
HVAC Workers and Asbestos
Asbestos is used in applications where there is a need to reduce heat. In heating applications especially, asbestos insulation was at onetime standard and can still be found in structures dating before 1970. Newer structures use fiberglass for insulating around very hot areas.
Some of the materials surrounding heating ducts, such as walls and ceilings, may contain asbestos. In these applications, the asbestos is either combined with other building materials or encapsulated within. Though safe if undisturbed, there is always the risk that asbestos containing materials (ACMs) can become friable over time.
Friable means that the material is easily turned to powder by the touch. When this happens, the asbestos fibers become airborne and may be inhaled.
There are generally three categories of HVAC workers:
The first category contains helpers and general laborers. Such workers are frequently temporary or employed in the short term and often do not receive the same level of safety training as other workers. They are the most at-risk because they are often unaware of the hazards.
The second category is the professional who either works for himself or for a small company. Professionals in this group are also often not trained in the hazards of asbestos and many may handle the products without knowing.
The final category of HVAC workers is the most skilled, trained, and informed of the three. Those who work for large commercial organizations are often certified and know the hazards.
Another risk industrial workers face is that asbestos fibers can become trapped in their clothing, which means workers can take the substance home with them. Although a worker may don a protective mask to prevent breathing in the cancer-causing dust, the fibers become trapped in their clothing which then goes home.
Attesting to this fact is the growing list of homemakers who were never directly exposed to asbestos, but still developed mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases. When doing laundry, the asbestos frees itself in microscopic particles and enters the lungs of the unsuspecting spouse.
Philadelphia Mesothelioma Lawyers at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown, & Sandler Want HVAC Workers to be Informed of the Risks
This information is not provided to frighten HVAC workers, but to inform them. Because asbestos continues to cause mesothelioma in growing numbers and continues to be used in industrial applications, we feel a responsibility to inform those who are at risk. Many HVAC workers throughout Philadelphia and New Jersey are unaware of the risks, believing, as many do, that asbestos is no longer a concern.
If you or someone you love has developed mesothelioma, chances are it was caused by asbestos exposure. The Philadelphia mesothelioma lawyers at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown, & Sandler would like to help.
If you live in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania or New Jersey, call 800-369-0899 to arrange a free consultation. Callers from Delaware County, Chester County, or Philadelphia County may call 215-569-4000. You can also contact us through our online form.