Some of those most at risk of developing mesothelioma in their lifetime are workers in "blue collar" positions. Blue collar workers are working class people who perform manual labor. Because these workers spent so much time around asbestos-containing materials and products, they are more likely to have experienced prolonged exposure to the substance, especially before it was declared a health hazard by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Three blue collar occupations that put workers at risk for a mesothelioma diagnosis due to exposure on the job include:
Asbestos has been used in thousands of consumer products, including automobile brake linings and clutches. Repairing or replacing these parts within cars put auto mechanics at risk for asbestos exposure. In fact, mechanics who work on older vehicles are still at risk for exposure on the job.
Asbestos was a preferred material for insulating pipes because of its superior resistance to heat and friction. Plumbers often work with asbestos cement water and sewer pipe, asbestos-running rope, and plumbers putty. These products were often cut or sanded down by plumbers, which released dangerous asbestos fibers into the air.
Asbestos was commonly used as an insulator in wiring and in high-voltage switchgear and motors. Electricians typically worked around joint compound and fireproofing, which also was likely to contain asbestos.
The occupations mentioned above are still common and asbestos use is still not banned in the United States, although it has declined. If you or a loved one has worked as a mechanic, plumber, or electrician, alerting a medical professional would be a wise idea. Without knowing your work history, a doctor could mistake mesothelioma symptoms for other, less serious respiratory conditions.