Energy – it’s what keeps America running. Without some source of power, life as we know it would come to a halt. Heating our homes, cooking meals, using electronics, and even doing our jobs would no longer be possible. About 20 percent of the energy we rely on every day comes from nuclear power plants – many of which are filled with asbestos-containing products.
Most of the one hundred nuclear power plants that exist in America today were built between the 1960s and 1980s, according to the American Industrial Hygiene Association. This was a time when asbestos was still used in products and construction, and its health hazards were not known among the general population. Unbeknownst to many power plant workers and their families, asbestos exposure was happening every day on the job.
H2: How Were Power Plant Workers Exposed to Asbestos?
In power plants, asbestos was often used as a thermal insulation for equipment and piping. Nuclear power plants use high-temperature reaction, which makes durable insulation materials like asbestos all the more attractive to make plants more efficient. At first, you’d think the primary individuals at risk for asbestos exposure were insulation workers, and although they are at high risk, other power plant workers were similarly at risk of exposure in storerooms and other areas of the plant where asbestos was handled and fabricated.
“Although asbestos-related health effects have been well-described among insulation workers, only rarely have such effects been described among power station workers,” said an article in the British Journal of Industrial Medicine regarding a study conducted on asbestos-related health hazards among power plant workers. “[R]isk of exposure to asbestos was not confined to workers engaging in lagging operations…asbestos-related abnormalities…were also present among workers in other job categories.”
Products in nuclear power plants where asbestos could often be found included:
- Pipe Insulation
- Electrical equipment
- Heat exchanges
Anyone working in a power plant was likely exposed to the toxin. Tight conditions and poor ventilation allowed airborne asbestos to easily circulate throughout the facility for extended periods of time, and inhaling any level of asbestos could be harmful. This means personnel who didn’t even handle the asbestos materials directly could still be exposed and at risk for asbestos diseases like mesothelioma.
The asbestos exposure risk doesn’t stop on the job. At the end of their shifts, power plant workers had the fibers stuck to their clothing, equipment or shoes. Bringing those items home resulted in asbestos contamination, putting even more individuals at risk – wives, children and other loved ones. This phenomenon is known as take-home exposure.
While current working conditions I these facilities have improved, it’s important to remember that it can take anywhere from 10 to 50 years for mesothelioma symptoms to appear. This means individuals who were exposed to asbestos from a power plant ten or more years ago could now be experiencing mesothelioma symptoms.
H2: What to Do if You or a Loved One Worked in a Power Plant
Many power plant workers had no idea they were being exposed to a toxin that could one day cause a rare form of lung cancer or other respiratory illnesses. The sad news is that companies that built, supplied and operated these facilities did know – and they still put workers at risk. Because of this, Simmons Hanly Conroy is working with power plant workers diagnosed with mesothelioma to fight against those corporations.
Our clients have worked in power plants across the country, including the following 36 states:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New York
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
We are here to help you seek the justice you deserve. If you are concerned that you or a loved one may have power plant asbestos exposure risk, learn more about the power plant occupation and its link to asbestos exposure and mesothelioma today.