Asbestos was a popular choice for welders because of its protective properties. With the ability to withstand high temperatures, it was the perfect solution to prevent burns. However, it posed an invisible risk that went unnoticed for decades. When protective clothing containing asbestos would snag and tear, it could release small fibers of asbestos into the air. These friable fibers were impossible to detect, but they could easily be inhaled or ingested, leading to serious health problems.
Clothing wasn’t the only thing welders worried about. They also used welding rods that were coated with a layer of asbestos. As the rod heated up, smoke and dust rose from it—along with tiny asbestos particles. With a latency period of 20 to 50 years, many of those welders are only now learning how much damage all that smoke, dust, and asbestos really did to their bodies.
Of the different asbestos-related illnesses, welders are more likely to develop mesothelioma or lung cancer
Mesothelioma is the most common asbestos-related illness. It starts when scar tissue begins forming around asbestos fibers that are embedded in the lungs. In most cases, the fibers are in the lung tissue. This is called pleural mesothelioma. There are also cases where the fibers penetrated the heart lining, leading to pericardial mesothelioma. If enough of the fibers are ingested, they can lead to peritoneal mesothelioma.
Although there’s no known cure for mesothelioma, modern doctors have excelled at slowing the progression of the disease and providing patients with a higher quality of life. The key is early diagnosis.
Asbestos-Related Lung Cancer
Welders who smoke will find themselves at risk for asbestos-related lung cancer. The combination of cigarette smoke and asbestos fibers makes this a very aggressive and painful form of lung cancer. Treatments for lung cancer and mesothelioma can vary depending on the stage of the disease. Doctors routinely use chemotherapy, radiation, and surgical intervention to try to treat or slow the progression of cancer.
Over the years, asbestos lawsuits have become increasingly common. As welders, construction workers, shipbuilders, and other tradesmen discover the link between asbestos exposure and chronic, life-threatening illnesses, many have decided to take legal action and seek compensation from the employers or manufacturers that put them at risk.
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestosis, or lung cancer and you believe it was caused by asbestos exposure during your welding career, you could be eligible for compensation. Settlements can help offset medical expenses, lost wages, or disability. While there is no way to go back and reverse the damage to your health, settlements can take the pressure off of your loved ones financially as you deal with the current health problems linked to asbestos exposure. Speak to a skilled asbestos lawyer today to learn more about your legal options.