Insulators and Mesothelioma

According to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, insulators (insulation workers) currently number around 60,000. Insulators are specialists in installing and removing materials used to prevent outdoor heat or cold from penetrating the interior of homes. Unfortunately, materials handled by insulators once made insulators and mesothelioma common. If you have been exposed to asbestos and diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact our office to see if you qualify to file a claim.

Materials Handled by Insulators

Materials handled by insulators are also installed to reduce or block the transmission of noise and to inhibit the spread of accidental fire. These materials are typically installed:

  • behind drywall panels
  • under floors
  • above ceilings
  • and around pipes inside homes, offices, and other structures.

Insulation workers also install energy-saving and fire-retarding materials to protect large machinery or equipment, such as engines, boilers, furnaces, and vats. Anyone who worked as an insulator during the years following World War II came into contact with insulation materials containing asbestos.

The prospect of contact with asbestos decreased throughout the 1980s but did not entirely disappear. Insulators can encounter asbestos even today if tasked with demolishing structures built in the middle of the 20th Century or earlier.

Asbestos exposure can cause many health problems for an unprotected insulator, as it can cause several forms of cancer. Two forms are mesothelioma and asbestos lung cancer, which can cause considerable distress.

If you are an insulator who has a proven case of asbestos-related illness. In that case, you can seek compensation to cover those costs through the legal system. File your claim today.

Who Qualifies As An Insulator?

An insulator either installs or removes insulation in your home. However, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most insulators specialize in certain insulation specialties.

The four specialties of insulation include:

  • wall insulators
  • flooring insulators
  • ceiling and attic insulators
  • And mechanical insulators.

Each thing focuses on the installation and removal of insulation in that specific area of the home. For example, floor, ceiling, and wall insulators go in between the studs and joists of your home and lay down insulation batts or spray foam insulation inside the holes.

Mechanical insulators, install insulation near working equipment, pipes, or ductwork. Still, despite these specializations, insulators have some common threads that everyone does at a job site.
Tasks typically performed by insulators of all stripes include:

  • Measuring and cutting the insulation to size
  • Stapling or screwing insulation into place
  • Using power tools to help with installation
  • Tearing out old insulation

Insulators And Asbestos Exposure

Insulators and Mesothelioma

There was a time when many of the materials with which insulators worked contained the carcinogenic mineral asbestos. But insulation materials manufactured between the 1930s and the 1970s incorporated asbestos to improve their performance.

Asbestos added to materials enabled them to withstand fire and extreme heat. That is why asbestos was used extensively in foundries, mills, and other industrial settings where furnaces and boilers were operating.

However, concerning the materials utilized by insulators, asbestos was added for reasons beyond fire safety and heat protection. Its presence in insulation delivered cost savings to building owners and occupants by making interiors more energy efficient. In addition, asbestos insulation worked better than other types of insulation to reduce heating and air conditioning demand.
Owing to its abundance and cheap cost, asbestos was incorporated into a wide range of products for use by insulators. These included:

  • Pipe coatings
  • Equipment covers
  • Gaskets
  • Valve jackets
  • Mastic
  • Paints
  • Wraparound sheets
  • Roll and square batts
  • Spray foam

Insulators and Mesothelioma From Asbestos

While asbestos-covered materials aren’t hazardous when kept still, the health problems start when handling them and installing the insulation or removing them. For example, some insulation needs to be cut into a specific size to fill a smaller space, or it might need to be stapled into a position to keep it secure. And if it required insulation to be ripped out, it was often ripped out by hand.

These actions were enough to cause the particles of asbestos inside the insulation to break free. Asbestos is light enough to behave like dust, where it floats for a while before eventually settling onto the ground. However, it does float for hours and sometimes days after being disturbed. As a result, insulators working without protection can breathe in or swallow the tiny particles. Since most insulators work in small spaces with very little ventilation, they are constantly in contact with these particles every time they breathe.

Insulators and Asbestos Inhalation

Once asbestos is inhaled or ingested, the particles settle near the lungs or the abdomen, slowly corrupting every healthy cell around them and not being dislodged by the body’s defenses. It does take a long time (sometimes a few decades) for this corruption to manifest into an actual disease, but it does. Insulators and workers who have breathed or swallowed asbestos can develop mesothelioma. There are other asbestos-related medical conditions as well, although doctors are still puzzled as to why this happens.

Insulators And Asbestos Exposure From Building Materials

Many of the materials insulators routinely worked with and near were at one time made in part from asbestos. These included:

  • Drywall
  • Ceiling and floor tiles
  • Electrical systems
  • Decorative plaster
  • Bricks and mortar
  • Pipes and valves
  • Water heaters
  • Furnaces and boilers
  • Ducting
  • Adhesives

They would use a drill or saw to open a hole in a product. These implements—and others an insulator might use—subjected these products to forces sufficient to dislodge mineral fibers.
And it did not take much force at all to dislodge them. Typically, asbestos fibers remain bonded to the material or materials from which the construction product is made as long as the product goes undisturbed. However, taking a tool to an asbestos-containing product creates a disturbance.

The Problem with Free Floating Asbestos Fibers

Freed asbestos fibers can then emerge from the product within which they are contained. After that, they can be easily swept upward into the air by even the faintest hint of a draft.
With asbestos fibers floating in the air, a great danger would exist for any insulator in the immediate vicinity.

Asbestos fibers tend to suspend in the air, much like dust particles. However, asbestos fibers are lighter than dust particles. Therefore, they are more likely to remain in the air long before settling—if at all. An insulator could easily find itself engulfed in a cloud of these asbestos fibers even though it was created quite a while earlier.

Were an insulator enveloped in a cloud of asbestos fibers, the likelihood of breathing or swallowing some airborne particles would be exceptionally high.

Insulators and Asbestos Exposure From Power Tools

Insulators mainly used hand tools in the performance of their work. Sometimes, they used powered drills, saws, screwdrivers, and staple guns. Often, the source of power for those tools was electricity. But another source of energy was compressed air—especially for applying spray foam insulation.

Small gasoline-fueled internal combustion engines could power compressors. Or they could be powered by electricity.
Any tool or gear powered by electricity was a potential source of asbestos exposure.

The motors that drive electrically powered tools generate significant heat when operated. The longer the engine runs, the hotter it gets. To prevent motor heat from melting the tool’s internal wiring and other components, makers typically added asbestos as a thermal shield.

After enough exposure to this heat and the general wear and tear of using the tool, the asbestos inside the device would crack open, and the tiny airborne particles would remain trapped inside the tool. At least until someone cracks open the means to perform maintenance on it. Most maintenance to remove the asbestos was done by blasting compressed air into the tool to remove the asbestos dust (while spreading it around to everyone in the area.)

Once the particles are airborne, they can be breathed or swallowed. They then travel down your respiratory or circulatory systems and get near your lungs and abdomen. They then remain there permanently because, due to the shape of the asbestos particles, they can’t be removed by the body’s natural defenses.

Then they go to work infecting healthy cells, and this can cause asbestos-related diseases to surface, such as mesothelioma. So while not every insulator gets any illness, asbestos is the cause for those who do.

Insulators and Asbestos Exposure From Working Alongside Other Trades

Of course, where there are insulators, there is a project, and where there is a project, other construction workers are doing their jobs.
In some instances, insulators are present simultaneously as drywallers, ceiling and flooring specialists, painters, plumbers, electricians, masonry workers, and others. Or insulators are onsite immediately after those other tradespeople.

In the past, most of the materials those construction workers worked with were made with asbestos. And the other workers cut into asbestos drywall, hammered asbestos ironworks, and drilled into asbestos bricks. These disturbances can cause issues for all the construction workers and could have exposed them to asbestos.
The asbestos that was exposed by other construction workers and also exposed by the insulators themselves now resided in the air, and it could easily be inhaled or swallowed if the workers didn’t have proper protection.

Once the asbestos is inhaled or swallowed, the particles get into healthy cells and then focus on turning them into infected and cancerous cells that can cause many problems for an affected person’s health, even decades after the exposure.

Insulators’ Rights to Compensation After Asbestos Exposure

Suppose insulators have suffered an asbestos-related problem, and the disease can be linked back both to asbestos and to that exposure. In that case, they can seek compensation from a court of law. In addition, they can attempt to gain back wages lost from their time out of work, payment for treatment costs, and more.

There have been many legal victories where people affected by an asbestos-related illness can hold businesses accountable. But unfortunately, the companies already have bad faith working against them because they sold and distributed asbestos products without warning people about the health risks.

Filing a lawsuit as an asbestos-injured insulator can help you win the trial rather than accepting an out-of-court lawsuit payment.

If the asbestos company in question has filed for bankruptcy, you won’t be able to sue them. However, you can take advantage of bankruptcy law. This states that bankrupt companies must set money aside in a trust fund (called an asbestos trust) to compensate victims who have submitted a correctly completed application for compensation. File a claim today.

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