Construction Workers & Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos products were widely used in construction materials. From schools, homes, offices, and other buildings, construction workers across the nation were put at risk of exposure nearly every day. After decades of honest work, they could be at risk of developing mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases.

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The Dangers of Asbestos in Construction

Construction worker
Ironworker at construction site installing roof joist

Construction labor is a difficult, physically challenging job. It is also considered one of the most dangerous careers. One danger most people don't think about is asbestos exposure.

Sadly, most construction workers — and the general public — didn't know that asbestos was linked to cancer at the time. This only came to light after asbestos had been used extensively for over 50 years.

For much of the 20th century, companies hailed asbestos as a “miracle mineral.” However, when asbestos materials are disturbed, microscopic particles release into the air. When inhaled or ingested, the particles settle within the body where they remain for decades causing serious damage.

Workers may not have known they were inhaling the toxic carcinogen until 20-50 years later — when symptoms of serious diseases like mesothelioma or asbestos-related lung cancer developed.

As more and more people who worked in construction-related jobs are now being diagnosed with cancer, Sokolove Law is fighting to hold the manufacturers of asbestos products accountable.

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How Asbestos Was Used in Construction

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that is nearly indestructible and resistant to fire, water, and sound.

As a result, asbestos was used heavily in the construction industry from the 1920s to the early 1980s.

Asbestos use was at its height in the mid-1970s. A record-high 803,000 tons of asbestos were used by the United States in 1973. Unfortunately, asbestos came under scrutiny around this time for the number of health issues it could cause.

Construction workers were particularly vulnerable to the dangers of asbestos. Workers blasted, sawed, and cut asbestos-rich building materials, releasing deadly fibers into the air without knowing the health risks.

Construction Jobs at High Risk of Asbestos Exposure

While almost every construction worker may be at risk of asbestos exposure, some construction jobs put workers at higher risk than others.

The most at-risk construction jobs included:

  • Carpenters
  • Demolition crews
  • Drywall installers
  • Electricians
  • Engineers
  • Flooring installers
  • Insulators
  • Masons
  • Painters
  • Pipefitters
  • Plasterers and cement workers
  • Plumbers
  • Roofers and tile setters

Retired construction workers who served in the industry for decades during the height of asbestos use may be at an increased risk of developing mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.

Call Sokolove Law right now at (800) 647-3434 if you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease.

Asbestos-Containing Construction Materials

For much of the 20th century, asbestos was used in thousands of commercial, industrial, and residential construction materials and products.

Workers who came into close contact with these materials may be at a higher risk of developing asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma.

Asbestos was commonly used in the following products, among many others:

  • Adhesives and glue
  • Cement powder
  • Fireplace embers
  • Flintkote tiles
  • Flooring and roofing felt
  • Insulation materials
  • Keasbey and Mattison asbestos shingles
  • Panels
  • Pipe and block insulation
  • Rollboard
  • Ruberoid roofing asphalt
  • Sealants
  • Specialty paper
  • Spray-applied ACM
  • U.S. Gypsum Company sheetrock texture
  • W.R. Grace and Company zonolite plaster
  • Wall patch compounds
  • Welding rods

Though asbestos is rarely used on construction sites today, it still poses a threat when workers renovate older buildings where asbestos-containing materials may still be present.

Construction Workers and Asbestos Exposure Today

Construction workerAsbestos use has decreased in recent decades due to the public’s knowledge of the associated health risks. However, it is still a threat to construction workers today.

Most occupational asbestos exposure now occurs when workers renovate, remove, or maintain asbestos-containing products or buildings that were constructed decades ago.

Without proper care or protective equipment, construction workers could be at risk of disturbing the asbestos fibers, releasing them into the air and inhaling them.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has estimated that 1.3 million employees in construction are exposed to asbestos on the job.

Unfortunately, asbestos is the primary cause of occupational cancers (like mesothelioma) in the United States.

Exposed to Asbestos?

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Secondhand Exposure & Family Members

Another important note is the possibility of secondhand exposure, also known as “take-home” exposure.

With secondhand exposure, asbestos fibers settle on construction workers’ clothing or shoes and are released into the air once they arrive home. This can put the construction worker’s family at risk for asbestos exposure, too.

There have been many accounts of wives developing mesothelioma decades after washing the asbestos-laced clothes of their husbands who were exposed at work. Parents who brought asbestos-based materials and equipment home with them could have also exposed their children indirectly.

Though secondhand exposure could have easily been avoided with proper knowledge, the sad truth is that many workers in the 20th century were not informed of the risks until it was too late. As a result, their entire families were put at risk.

Help for Construction Workers & Their Families

Even if you or your loved one has been out of the construction industry for years, you still could be diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease.

It doesn’t matter how much or how little asbestos exposure occurred. Any level of exposure increases one’s risk of developing asbestos-related diseases.

Decades of Trusted Legal Help

Sokolove Law is a mesothelioma law firm with over 40 years of experience holding companies that ignored the dangers of asbestos exposure accountable. We have the resources and reach to help clients across the country take action.

Our asbestos exposure attorneys are dedicated to helping mesothelioma victims and their families seek justice from companies like these.

Contact us today to see if we can help you get financial compensation for your asbestos-related disease.

Mesothelioma & Construction Workers FAQs

What are the risks of asbestos?

Asbestos is now known to be a harmful carcinogen or cancer-causing substance. Even small amounts of asbestos are unsafe.

It is the cause of mesothelioma, a rare cancer that forms in the lining of the heart, lungs, and abdomen. Asbestos can also cause other serious illnesses like lung cancer and asbestosis.

If you've been diagnosed with an asbestos-related cancer or disease, contact Sokolove Law now. We've helped thousands of families get the compensation they need for treatment.

Can you get mesothelioma from working in construction?

Possibly, yes. Before the 1980s, asbestos was widely used in the construction industry. This put workers at an increased risk of developing serious illnesses, including mesothelioma.

Even today, workers may still be at risk of asbestos exposure when working at renovation sites of older buildings.

Is asbestos still used in construction today?

Safety regulations have limited the use of asbestos since the late 1980s. However, construction workers today may still be at risk of exposure if they worked in old renovation sites or buildings.

Asbestos-containing materials may still be present in these older buildings and, when disturbed, could cause serious risk for workers.

Contact us at (800) 647-3434 if you were exposed and are suffering from asbestos-related illnesses. We can fight on your behalf for the compensation you need.

Author:
Sokolove Law Team

Contributing Authors

The Sokolove Law Content Team is made up of writers, editors, and journalists. We work with case managers and attorneys to keep site information up to date and accurate. Our site has a wealth of resources available for victims of wrongdoing and their families.

Last modified: December 8, 2022

View 2 Sources
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Construction statistics." Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/construction/statistics.html#:~:text=In%202019%2C%2011.4%20million%20U.S.,a%2025%25%20increase%20since%202011. Accessed on December 7, 2022.
  2. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. "Asbestos exposure among construction workers." Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/nioshtic-2/00198883.html%5C. Accessed on December 7, 2022.