High-Risk Asbestos Exposure For Insulators

Insulation containing asbestos was a cheap, durable and fire-resistant product that was used for decades in refineries, commercial buildings, boiler rooms, ships, steel mills, trains and other locations. Asbestos was not taken out of thermal pipe, block or cement insulation until the mid1970s.

Insulators, who were at one time known as asbestos workers, unwittingly worked with asbestos insulation for years.The cutting of block and pipe covering and the mixing of insulating finish cements during installation as well as the removal of asbestos insulation exposed not only the insulators doing the work, but any other trade within their close proximity. Asbestos insulation has been linked to diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestosis and various types of cancer.

If you handled insulation products containing asbestos as an insulator, construction worker, pipefitter or in another capacity, and you have contracted a life-threatening disease, you may be able to obtain compensation.

Today, removing asbestos insulation in remodeling or demolition projects can be risky. Workers must follow prescribed asbestos removal techniques including sealing and depressurizing the area that contains asbestos and removing it using special filtration cleaners and devices. They should wear protective suits, masks and respirators. Work areas should be well ventilated.

Asbestos In Insulation Products

Bans on asbestos-containing insulation didn't occur until the early 1970s and many companies continued to install it until inventories were used up in 1977. In 1991, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lifted the ban and made it possible for companies to produce asbestos insulation products as long as they contained less than 1 percent asbestos.

Because product manufacturers knowingly incorporated asbestos into insulation after learning it was hazardous, thousands have filed suits against the manufacturers as a result of developing an asbestos-related disease.

High-Risk Asbestos Exposure For Insulators

Insulation can be grouped into six main categories:

  • Pipe — It was often used to control the temperature of steam pipes in industrial and maritime applications. Asbestos pipe insulation that is found today is usually old, crumbly and therefore very hazardous. It remains one of the most hazardous asbestos products found in homes and buildings.
  • Block — Block insulation was applied to equipment such as boilers or furnaces.
  • Cement — Was often used to insulate odd shaped equipment and pipe fittings or for application over blocks that were curved. Insulating cements were used to cover joints and as a finish coat over pipe insulation.
  • Spray-applied — This insulation was used on tanks and odd shaped vessels. In 1990, the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) prohibited the spray-on application of materials containing more than 1 percent asbestos unless it was encapsulated with a bituminous or resinous binder during spraying.
  • Spray-applied — A simple, inexpensive way to provide thermal protection in attics, walls, ceilings and other spaces. In 1990, the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) prohibited the spray-on application of materials containing more than 1 percent asbestos unless it was encapsulated with a bituminous or resinous binder during spraying.
  • Paper and millboard — Asbestos paper can be used for gasketing, insulation, and fireproofing. Asbestos millboard is essentially paper but differentiated by thicker cardboard construction. These materials are used in boilers, kilns, equipment in glass industry, thermal protection in circuit breakers in electrical industry and linings for troughs and covers in the aluminum, marine and aerospace industry.
  • Cloth—Often referred to as A-cloth, this material was used for covering insulated pipes as well as for welding blankets in order to protect equipment from sparks.

If you or a member of your family has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, lung cancer or any asbestos-related disease as a result of exposure to asbestos-containing insulation, it is important to retain the services of an experienced asbestos attorney as soon as possible.