Engineers and Asbestos Exposure
Engineers with mesothelioma may have been exposed to asbestos through multiple sources on the job. Asbestos was extensively used in building components and industrial products during most of the 1900s. The Lanier Law Firm helps engineers identify their sources of exposure and hold those accountable who wrongfully exposed them to asbestos.
Engineers work in a variety of industries known to have high risks for asbestos exposure. Engineers design, develop, maintain, and solve problems related to machines, engines, and other scientific and technological products. They may encounter asbestos while working with electrical wiring, insulation, bonding agents, boilers, and industrial machines.
Exposure to any amount of asbestos can lead to mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses later in life. Engineers with repeated exposure to large amounts of asbestos over extended periods face the highest risks. The mesothelioma lawyers at The Lanier Law Firm help individuals diagnosed with asbestos-related illnesses hold those accountable who exposed them to asbestos.
Asbestos Exposure and Engineers
The five categories of engineers include chemical, civil, electrical, industrial, and mechanical. Engineers in all of these categories may face occupational asbestos exposure. Asbestos exposure on the job was especially common from the 1930s until the late 1970s.
Asbestos became a heavily restricted product after this period due to growing public awareness of its dangers. Although asbestos is no longer used for most products, engineers may continue to face exposure to asbestos when working on products manufactured before 1980, or while working in buildings built before 1990.
Chemical engineers work with chemicals and use scientific principles to design products and innovate processes. The following subtypes of chemical engineers may experience asbestos exposure on the job:
- Petroleum engineers
- Textile engineers
- Materials engineers
Petroleum engineers develop methods to extract oil and gas from the earth. According to Toxicology and Industrial Health, up to 90 percent of workers in the oil refining and petrochemical industries have been exposed to asbestos with the highest exposures occurring during the repair and maintenance of equipment.
Materials engineers work with metals, ceramics, fibers, and plastics to create a wide range of new products.
Asbestos was originally an important component of plastic that helped increase its flexibility. Four varieties of asbestos were used, including chrysotile, crocidolite, amosite, and anthophyllite, according to Advances in Chemistry. Crocidolite is viewed as the most dangerous type of asbestos.
Textile engineers design fabrics, yarn, fibers, and even paper. The machinery used to manufacture these products contained asbestos during most of the Industrial Revolution. Asbestos was also widely used in the products themselves due to its fireproofing abilities.
Civil engineers design and maintain physical infrastructure, including bridges, tunnels, roads, airports, and water systems. Civil engineers face a high risk of asbestos exposure because of their involvement with the construction industry.
Construction engineers manage construction projects and may be exposed to asbestos when the following building components are disturbed:
- Adhesives, sealants, tapes
- Pipe coatings
- Thermal insulation
- Wiring insulation
- Floor tiles
- Roofing materials
They may also be exposed to asbestos when operating or repairing specialized equipment used for building construction or demolition.
Hydraulic engineers design projects related to the movement of fluids, such as dams, drainage systems, and levees. Asbestos was widely used in cement pipes, gaskets, and packings. Cement pipes can release asbestos as they degrade over time or while being cut or removed.
Gaskets and packing were used to seal to prevent leaking. They can be made of a variety of materials including rubber, paper, cloth, and plastic. These materials occur as sheets, O-rings, V-grooves, and virtually any shape. Asbestos was especially valued in gaskets exposed to high temperatures.
Mining and Geological Engineers
Mining and geological engineers develop mining technology. Engineers may have experienced significant asbestos exposure in asbestos mines while it was still mined in the United States. The last asbestos mine in the United States was closed in 2002.
Mining engineers can still be exposed to asbestos through contamination of other mined materials, such as talc. Asbestos also occurs naturally in some areas and may be disturbed while mining any substance in close proximity to these deposits.
Railway Systems Engineers
Railway systems engineers develop rail vehicles and equipment, including asbestos-containing gaskets, machine components, electrical wiring, fireproofing, heat insulation, and friction products. Railroads were also used to ship asbestos materials, which would have left contamination behind.
In 2022 the EPA moved to end two decades of cleanup along 42 miles of railway and in rail yards in the town of Libby, Montana, where vermiculite was transported.
Utility engineers develop and plan utility systems operations, such as water and gas. They work at power plants and utility companies. They can be exposed to asbestos through the following:
- Machine components
- Electrical wiring insulation
- Thermal insulation
Electrical engineers design, test, and maintain electrical systems and products, such as microchips, satellites, and power station generators. The following electrical engineering occupations hold especially high risks of asbestos exposure:
- Electronics engineers
- Power engineers
Power engineers operate and maintain machinery and industrial equipment, including boilers, refrigeration systems, and heating systems. All of this equipment may contain significant levels of asbestos.
Industrial engineers work with businesses to reduce costs, improve quality, and increase efficiency. They perform a variety of hands-on tasks such as designing facilities and ensuring workplace safety.
Component engineers design and test machine components including wiring and gaskets.
Fire Protection Engineers
A fire protection engineer analyzes buildings for fire hazards and develops fire suppression systems. Asbestos was extensively used in fire protection applications because of its resistance to heat and fire.
A manufacturing engineer develops a variety of products and machinery used in manufacturing. These products are typically used in factories. Older machinery may still contain asbestos. Engineers who developed machinery while asbestos was still widely used may have been exposed to significant levels of asbestos.
Mechanical engineers develop machines and thermal devices and face a high degree of asbestos exposure due to the extensive use of asbestos in products that get hot.
Aeronautical and Aerospace Engineers
Aeronautical and aerospace engineers work with aircraft, spacecraft, satellites, and missiles. The heat resistance of asbestos made it useful for these types of products. Aerospace and aeronautical engineers with mesothelioma may have been exposed to asbestos through gaskets, insulation, and friction parts.
Agricultural engineers work on power supplies, machines, facilities, and structures and may be exposed to asbestos through machine components, building components, and electrical wiring.
Marine engineers design, build, and maintain ships, submarines, and other sea vessels. They face an excess risk of mesothelioma. A ship’s movement and vibration can release asbestos, which was used on virtually every aspect of the ship, including the following:
- Ship hulls
Asbestos exposure in shipyards and aboard ships may have occurred during any phase of design, construction, operation, or repair of the ship. Asbestos exposure in the military, especially in the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard, has been extensive and continues to plague military members.
Power Plant Engineers
Power plant engineers maintain the daily operations in power plants and may be exposed to asbestos when maintaining boilers and electrical components. Asbestos in power plants may be found in the following components:
- Pipe insulation
- Cable wrap
- Arc chutes in breakers
- Boiler insulation
- Asbestos cement boards
- Incandescent light heat shields
- Asbestos cement on walls
- Crack filler for drywall and around flanges and valves
- Fire doors
Engineering Product Manufacturers
Hundreds of companies exposed engineers to asbestos, including the following:
- A.O. Smith Corporation
- A.W. Chesterton Co.
- Ameraflex Rubber & Gasket Company, Inc.
- American Biltrite
- Armstrong International, Inc.
- Aurora Pump Company
- BMI Refractory Services, Inc.
- Briggs & Stratton Corporation
- Caterpillar, Inc.
- Chem-Flow Corporation
- Chevron USA, Inc.
- Ciba Specialty Chemical Corp.
- Citgo Petroleum Corporation
- Combustion Engineering
- Cooper Industries, Inc.
- Crown Cork & Seal Company
- ConocoPhillips Petroleum
- Deere & Company
- Emerson Electric Company
- Fairbanks Morse Engine
- Ford Motor Company
- General Electric Company
- Garlock Sealing Technologies
- Goodall Rubber Company
- Honeywell International
- Johns Manville
- Lamons Gasket Company
- Marathon Ashland Petroleum
- North American Refractories Company
- Peerless Industries, Inc.
- Pittsburgh Metals Purifying Division of Treesdale, Inc.
- Plastics Engineering Company
- Premier Refractories
- Railroad Friction Products Corp.
- Resco Holdings, LLC
- Schneider Electric USA, Inc.
- Stockholm Valves and Fittings, Inc.
- Sunoco, Inc.
- Standco Industries
- Texaco, Inc.
- The Dow Chemical Corporation
- U.S. Steel
- Union Carbide Corporation
- Wyeth Holdings Corp.
- York-Shipley Global
What are the health effects of asbestos exposure?
The health effects of asbestos exposure typically occur decades after the initial exposure. Unfortunately, there are no immediate health effects that could serve to warn a worker that exposure to asbestos is occurring. This means that many people learn of their exposure to asbestos only after developing a terminal illness.
Mesothelioma is cancer of the mesothelium, or the lining surrounding certain bodily organs. It is an aggressive form of cancer with a poor prognosis and no known cure. Asbestos exposure is the only known risk factor for mesothelioma.
Pleural mesothelioma impacts the lining surrounding the lungs. This is the most common type of mesothelioma and represents approximately 80 percent of mesothelioma cases. Symptoms include shortness of breath, coughing, and chest pain. Life expectancy is an average of two years with treatment or six months without treatment.
Peritoneal mesothelioma is cancer of the lining around the stomach. It represents 10 to 15 percent of mesothelioma cases. Patients with peritoneal mesothelioma have a life expectancy ranging from a few months to a few years. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.
Pericardial mesothelioma is rare and affects the lining around the heart. The average life expectancy is less than six months. Symptoms include chest pain, shoulder pain, irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, and swelling of the legs.
Testicular mesothelioma is the rarest form and impacts the lining surrounding the testicles. Symptoms include swelling and a palpable mass. The life expectancy is 24 months on average, but many patients live 10 years or longer.
What other conditions can develop as a result of occupational asbestos exposure?
In addition to mesothelioma, the following conditions may develop as a result of asbestos exposure:
How much compensation can engineers recover for occupational asbestos exposure?
Compensation for asbestos-related illnesses varies based on the type of mesothelioma claim for which you qualify, your age at exposure, life expectancy, and other factors.
Asbestos Exposure Lawsuits
In an asbestos exposure lawsuit, you may qualify for economic, non-economic, and punitive damages. Economic damages are compensation for tangible financial costs related to your diagnosis. Non-economic damages are compensation for your pain and suffering.
Punitive damages are awarded as a punishment against defendants whose injurious conduct was willful or grossly negligent. Asbestos companies engaged in an active coverup of the dangers of asbestos while knowingly exposing workers for decades. Punitive damages may apply but are not available in all venues.
What if my family member died from an asbestos-related illness?
If your immediate family member passed away as a result of an asbestos-related illness, your family may be able to pursue damages by filing a wrongful death lawsuit. Wrongful death damages may include the following, depending on the jurisdiction where your case is filed:
- Medical expenses of the deceased
- Lost income of the deceased
- Burial expenses
- Pain and suffering of the deceased
- Pain and suffering of the family
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of support and guidance
- Punitive damages
Asbestos Trust Funds
When the health effects of asbestos became widely known, some asbestos companies were overwhelmed by their liabilities and filed for bankruptcy. These companies established asbestos trust funds in accordance with Section 524(g) of the bankruptcy code.
There is approximately $30 billion available in these trust funds. Trust fund claims are filed directly with each fund without the necessity of going through the court system. This can result in a faster path to receiving compensation. However, trust fund compensation is often significantly lower than the compensation that may be recoverable in a lawsuit.
Trust fund claims may cover economic and non-economic damages. Punitive damages generally are unavailable.
If you were an employee of a company that exposed you to asbestos, you may qualify for an asbestos workers’ compensation claim. Workers’ compensation provides partial wage replacement, free medical care, and death benefits. It does not provide non-economic damages.
You generally cannot sue the employer if your case qualifies for workers’ compensation, but you may be able to file a lawsuit against companies that supplied asbestos to your employer.
If you worked as an independent contractor, you are generally ineligible for workers’ compensation, but you can file a civil lawsuit against the employer. State laws have strict definitions of employees versus independent contractors.
If you were exposed to asbestos while serving on active duty for any branch of the military, you may qualify for compensation through the Department of Veterans Affairs, including disability compensation and free medical care. The VA also provides compensation for families in the event of a service-connected death.
How can The Lanier Law Firm help me with my asbestos exposure case?
Asbestos cases are complex and require specific knowledge. The Lanier Law Firm has been helping clients stand up to asbestos companies for more than 25 years, and we know what it takes to recover maximum compensation for our clients. Our mesothelioma attorneys can do the following to maximize your compensation:
- Identify your sources of exposure
- Determine which types of claims you can file
- File one or more civil lawsuits in the most beneficial venues
- File your trust fund claims
- File your workers’ compensation claim
- Negotiate a strong settlement
- Present your case to a jury in a compelling way
We settle most cases so our clients can avoid the trial process. However, we prepare every case for trial to ensure we have a strong case for any client who chooses to take a case to trial.
Why should I choose The Lanier Law Firm for my asbestos exposure claim?
The Lanier Law Firm is a nationally recognized law firm that accepts mesothelioma cases in all 50 states with remarkable results. Since our establishment in 1990, we have won nearly $20 billion in settlements and verdicts on behalf of our clients, including numerous mesothelioma case results like the following:
- $4.5 million for a man who was exposed to asbestos through joint compound exposure
- $2.3 million settlement for an electrician exposed to asbestos while working at a naval shipyard
- $1.9 million settlement for the surviving spouse of a chief engineer exposed to asbestos in the engine rooms of cruise ships
- $1.832 million on behalf of a white-collar oil and gas worker
- $1.785 million settlement for the family of a deceased construction worker
These results represent a difference we were able to make in the lives of individual clients who were experiencing the most heart-wrenching ordeals of their lifetimes. Our satisfaction comes from the feedback we receive from our clients, such as the following:
“The Lanier Law Firm has been such a blessing for our family. My mother passed away from mesothelioma. The many settlements my father received allowed him to live comfortably until he passed away at 95. The Lanier Law Firm was very professional and always answered our questions promptly. I am very grateful for all of their guidance.” —Nancy Katkowski
When should I contact a mesothelioma lawyer?
Every jurisdiction has a different statute of limitations for mesothelioma lawsuits, trust fund claims, and workers’ compensation claims. In some cases, this can be as little as a year from diagnosis. It is important to contact a mesothelioma attorney as soon as possible after your diagnosis to ensure your case can be filed in a timely manner.
Contact The Lanier Law Firm today for a free case evaluation.