Workplace Asbestos Exposure: Steel Mills
Steel mill workers convert natural resources, such as iron and carbon, into steel. In the United States, steel is extensively used to construct, among other things, bridges, stadiums, and large skyscrapers. The steel mill industry employs thousands of workers; and unfortunately, steel mill workers face an increased risk for workplace asbestos exposure. In fact, many steel mill workers have been exposed to asbestos at work and have developed serve and fatal asbestos-related diseases.
Asbestos Use in Steel Mills Equipment
Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral with fire and heat resistant properties. During steel production, steel equipment is constantly in motion and can reach extreme temperatures. To insulate and protect steel mill equipment, workers used to line the equipment with asbestos. Asbestos containing blankets were also used to regulate the metal casing’s cooling process.
Asbestos containing equipment used in steel mills includes:
- steam pipes
- blast furnaces
- steel ovens
Asbestos Use in Steel Mill Workers’ Protective Clothing
Because steel mill workers face extremely high temperatures during steel production, steel mill workers wear protective clothing to protect themselves from burns. For many years, this protective clothing was lined with asbestos.
Protective clothing worn by steel mill workers that contained asbestos included:
- face masks
Dangers of Workplace Asbestos Exposure in Steel Mills
Before the 1980s, steel mill workers were exposed to high levels of asbestos because they handled asbestos containing equipment and wore asbestos containing clothing.
When asbestos containing materials are damaged, asbestos fibers become airborne. When airborne asbestos fibers are inhaled, they remain lodged in the lungs and the body’s immune system cannot destroy them. Prolonged exposure to asbestos fibers may lead to serious and fatal diseases, such as:
- mesothelioma (a rare cancer that affects the lining surrounding the lungs)
- asbestosis (a respiratory disorder caused by lung tissue scarring)
- lung cancer
- esophageal, stomach, colon, or rectum cancer
Injured by Asbestos While Working at a Steel Mill?
If you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos while working at a Steel Mill and diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, please contact us today to assess your legal rights.