Asbestos Exposure on Sheetmetal workers
Sheet metal workers are among the skilled tradesmen at elevated risk of developing mesothelioma due to on-the-job exposure to asbestos. Sheet metal workers fabricate and install heating and air conditioning ductwork, work in the shipping and automotive industry and produce appliances. The work may expose you to dust from asbestos that was used as spray-on insulation on ductwork, used in ship construction and used in friction automotive parts.
Sheet Metal Workers and Asbestos
You may have worked as a sheet metal worker 20 to 40 years ago and only recently received a diagnosis of mesothelioma. You may be a retired sheet metal worker recently diagnosed with asbestos-related disease. Mesothelioma takes decades to appear after the exposure to asbestos and often strikes older workers and retired workers.
A 2009 study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine analyzed the mortality patterns of more than 17,000 sheet metal workers with 20 years or more of experience in the trade. The study found an elevated risk of asbestos-related disease and mortality among sheet metal workers for mesothelioma, asbestosis and cancers of the pleura or lining of the chest and abdomen.
Until the 1970s, asbestos was widely used in building materials because of its properties of durability and heat resistance. For many years, sheet metal workers sprayed asbestos on ductwork for fireproofing. That method of application was banned in 1973 due to the health hazard of airborne asbestos. Today, the use of asbestos is strictly regulated. Sheet metal workers' greatest risk of exposure is during renovation of older asbestos-insulated ventilation systems and ductwork.