Asbestos in the workplace has affected many different types of workers across the nation. One of the places workers are at risk for coming into contact with the substance on the job is within oil refineries.
An oil or petroleum refinery is an industrial process plant where crude oil is processed and refined into products like diesel fuel, heating oil, gasoline, and kerosene. Because of the high temperatures used in the processing of the oil, asbestos materials were considered to be very useful within refineries. Asbestos-containing insulation, and even protective clothing, posed an exposure risk for workers. Insulators, pipefitters, and plant maintenance workers are particularly vulnerable to exposure.
As a result of exposure, refinery workers are at risk for developing serious, often fatal, asbestos-related diseases in their lifetime. Asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma are a few of the illnesses refinery workers can be diagnosed with. The latency period of these diseases can be anywhere from a few years to several decades, meaning many workers are retired by the time they are diagnosed.
If you have worked in a refinery, you should alert your doctor to the possibility of past asbestos exposure. This will help ensure that they do not mistake your condition for a different respiratory condition. Have you been exposed to asbestos due to your work in an oil refinery? Please share your story within a comment below.