Asbestos Occupations

If you worked in one of the following trades or job occupations referenced below, it is likely that you were exposed to asbestos throughout the duration of your career.


Although rare, mesothelioma affects veterans from all branches of service: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. As mesothelioma has a long latency period and can remain dormant for several decades, veterans who served our country from 1930 through 1980 are just now being diagnosed with the disease. Those who worked in shipyards between World War II and the Vietnam War – at the height of the asbestos era – likely were exposed.

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Firefighters have an increased risk of developing mesothelioma due to exposure to asbestos in older structures on fire as well as carrying asbestos on their clothes. The attacks on 9/11 required the help of hundreds of firefighters and other emergency and rescue workers. It also resulted in the loss of countless lives, including 343 brave firefighters. Unfortunately, those who survived the attacks may still face health issues associated with the attacks.

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Shipyard Workers

Shipyard workers perform a variety of functions at America’s shipyards ranging from ship design to construction to maintenance. Often shipyard workers performed many different types of tasks. Asbestos was a common material used on ships until the middle of the 70’s because it possessed excellent heat and fire resistance properties.

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Steel mill workers

Because of the constant threat of heat and fire, asbestos was prevalent throughout steel mills. As asbestos-containing materials aged and were replaced, asbestos fibers often were sent airborne and inhaled by anyone in the steel mill. In one study of steel mill workers, asbestos fibers were found in the bodies of maintenance workers and production workers. Inside the mill, asbestos was used in protective gloves, protective clothing, countertops, liner board, and blankets. Other studies have demonstrated increased risks for asbestos-related lung cancer among steel mill workers.

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An old trade that shaped metals into practical items, blacksmiths faced asbestos hazards largely because of the necessity to have fire and heat around. To reduce the risk of fires, blacksmiths often worked in areas insulated with asbestos. They also wore gloves, aprons and masks that may have been made with asbestos.

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The hazards facing smelter workers were caused by asbestos-containing materials they used for protection. Their work stations often were constructed with asbestos products for safety reasons. In some cases, welders may have even worked on asbestos materials. In an asbestos exposure assessment of aluminum smelter workers, as much as 40 percent of the workers studied were exposed to asbestos.

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These workers specialize in joining (welding) metals together. Like others in the metalworking occupation, they were surrounded by constantly heated temperatures and inevitably had some asbestos-containing materials or clothing for protection. Several studies found welders are more at risk for developing mesothelioma because of exposure to asbestos. In one study of shipyard welders, 13 of 306 of them were found to have irregular developments on their lungs caused by asbestos fibers. In another, five deaths were attributed to pleural mesothelioma. Additional studies also noted increased rates of lung cancer among welders.

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Aluminum and iron workers

Aluminum and iron workers: Former aluminum and iron workers may have been exposed to asbestos during daily work tasks because the facilities they worked in were often constructed with asbestos-containing materials. The heavy machinery they used was also a potential source for exposure because they may have been made with parts containing asbestos.

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Asbestos High Risk Occupations

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