Asbestos Exposure Poses a Risk to Plumbers

Be aware of the dangers you may find on a job site and what your rights to compensation are if you do fall victim to the effects of asbestos exposure
Asbestos Exposure Poses a Risk to Plumbers
Andrew Calcagno

Interested in Safety?

Get Safety articles, news and videos right in your inbox! Sign up now.

Safety + Get Alerts

Like many other maintenance professionals, plumbers are disproportionately burdened by the risk of asbestos exposure.

From the middle of the 20th century to the late 1970s, many pipes, ducts, tanks, boilers, pumps, valves, and other building products across the United States contained significant and dangerous amounts of asbestos, used for insulation purposes. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Regulation, most occupational exposures to asbestos today occur during the repair, renovation, removal, or maintenance of these asbestos-containing materials and products that were installed decades ago.

For plumbers — particularly those who do not wear protective gear — asbestos exposure may come from their interaction with:

  • Asbestos-containing materials (aircell, pipe coating, block insulation, thermal insulation, certain plastics, and more)
  • Asbestos-containing tools (cement, gaskets, welding rods, and more)
  • Asbestos dust and asbestos fibers (released from pipes, insulation, and asbestos paper, and more)

The use of asbestos-containing materials and products can disturb the asbestos particles that are contained within such items and cause the release of the toxic dust and fibers into the air, which — when inhaled — may lead to the development of cancers and other serious illnesses.

The first line of defense is avoiding areas where there is a possibility of asbestos exposure. But plumbers who still need to be in areas where there may be a risk should at least wear protective equipment and follow safety protocols (i.e. avoiding proximity to asbestos dust release on a property that is simultaneously being worked on by other maintenance workers, such as bricklayers and drywall specialists). Many older buildings were constructed with asbestos-containing materials and products, and this danger may not be immediately apparent before a job, or even after the plumber has arrived on the property. It’s critical that plumbers come prepared with the necessary equipment and protocol to avoid potential exposure. Asbestos dust and fibers can remain on the body (skin, hair, etc.) for extended periods of time, even after a job has been completed.

Numerous studies have been published linking exposure to asbestos to the development of serious illnesses , and various data studies reveal that plumbers (along with other maintenance professionals) face an increased risk of asbestos-related diseases, including cancer.

Disease Risks

Exposure to asbestos dust and fibers can lead to the development of serious diseases that include, but are not limited to:

  • Cancers (including lung cancer, mesothelioma, gastrointestinal, and others)
  • Asbestosis (a lung disease that demonstrates as inflammation and can cause severe breathing issues that result in death)
  • Pleural effusions (fluid buildup in the lungs)
  • Pleural plaques (painful breathing)
  • Pleuritis (inflammation and chest pain)
  • Pleural thickening (lung lesions, causing impaired lung function and potentially fatal)
  • Obstructive pulmonary disease (susceptibility to additional lung issues)

Exposure to asbestos does not necessarily lead to the rapid development of asbestos-related health issues. In many cases, severe health issues may develop after several years — even decades — after the initial asbestos exposure. Plumbers who experience chronic lung and chest problems, even if the symptoms are not major, should see a medical professional for a proper diagnosis as it may prevent the development of a more severe asbestos-related condition.

Recovering Damages

If you have developed a serious health condition as a result of asbestos exposure, then you may be able to recover damages depending on the particular circumstances of your exposure. For example, if a company hired you to repair, renovate, or maintain property that it knew or should have known posed significant asbestos risks, then it may be found liable for the damages you suffered as a result of the exposure (cancer, asbestosis, etc.).

If you believe that you’ve been exposed to asbestos, or if you’re suffering from an asbestos-related condition, it’s important to seek the consultation of an experienced asbestos exposure attorney as soon as possible. Your claims are governed by a statute of limitations period (usually between one to three years in length, depending on the state) that begins to accrue when the effects of exposure manifest themselves, or in other words, when the injury becomes apparent.

If the statute of limitations deadline passes before you file your claims, then you will no longer be entitled to recover your claims in a court of law. An asbestos exposure attorney can work with you to assess your claims and will pursue litigation in a timely fashion to ensure that your right to recovery is preserved.

About the Author
Andrew Calcagno is a personal injury lawyer. For more information or if you have any questions, visit his website


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.