Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos ExposureExposure to asbestos fibers can cause asbestos-related diseases including malignant mesothelioma and other cancers. A potentially dangerous asbestos exposure can result from very small fibers at low exposure levels. Most such exposure would likely have occurred prior to the 1980s, but the latency period can be up to 50 years for most asbestos-related cancers to develop.

Many people have come into contact with asbestos fibers at their jobs. This is occupational exposure. There is also a risk to the family members of those working in at-risk occupations; this exposure is called paraoccupational exposure. Approximately 70% to 80% of the cases of mesothelioma are believed to be the direct result of easily identified occupational or paraoccupational exposure to asbestos fibers.

A third group of people are also at risk, not from their job, but from where they live. Sites likely to have asbestos include refineries, power plants, factories, shipyards, steel mills and demolished buildings. Those who live nearby can be exposed by the release of asbestos fibers that contaminate their residential neighborhoods.

Specific Industries and Occupations with Asbestos Exposure Risk

Asbestos Exposure Industries
Industries / Job Locations:

  • Asbestos product manufacturing (insulation, roofing, building, materials)
  • Automotive repair (brakes & clutches)
  • Construction/contractors
  • Maritime
  • Oil refineries
  • Power plants
  • Railroads
  • Shipyards / ships
  • Steel mills

Asbestos Exposure Occupations


  • Automotive mechanics
  • Boiler makers
  • Bricklayers
  • Building Inspectors
  • Carpenters
  • Electricians
  • Hod carriers
  • Insulators
  • Iron workers
  • Laborers
  • Longshoremen
  • Maintenance workers
  • Merchant marines
  • Millwrights
  • Painters
  • Plasterers
  • Plumbers
  • Roofers
  • Sheet metal workers
  • Steam fitters
  • Tile setters
  • U.S. Navy veterans
  • Welders
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