Asbestos exposure in pipefitters, steamfitters and plumbers

By Treven Pyles

Posted on April 15th, 2021

Responsible for installing and repairing pipes that carry water, steam, air, or other liquids or gases to and in businesses, homes, and factories, pipefitters, steamfitters, and plumbers were heavily exposed to asbestos during the last century. Today, these occupational groups can recover the compensation they deserve.

In 2018, a study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology found that former plumbers are one of the occupational groups at the highest risk of developing serious diseases as a result of asbestos exposure on the job. Accordingly, plumbers are nearly 16 times more likely to come to struggle with mesothelioma than the general population. Pipefitters, steamfitters, and plumbers were mostly exposed to asbestos insulation, as pipes and ducts required solid insulation and asbestos was the most popular material in this respect. Since it has excellent resistance to extreme temperatures, asbestos was the ideal material for insulation in pipes and ducts. Plumbers usually worked as part of a construction team and worked closely with pipefitters and steamfitters on jobs on a large scale and on industrial projects. Their responsibilities refer to installing plumbing systems in new construction or fixing a problem with a system that already exists in a building. Nevertheless, plumbers also work on projects by themselves.

How were pipefitters, steamfitters, and plumbers exposed to asbestos on the job?

Between 1940 and 1970, pipes, boilers, ducts, and tanks were manufactured with thermal insulation that contained asbestos. When pipefitters, steamfitters, and plumbers would perform maintenance and repair work to these systems, they would inevitably disturb the asbestos insulation that was covering them, thereby releasing tremendous amounts of asbestos fibers in the air. Subsequently, they would inhale the toxic asbestos fibers, since they were not required to wear protective equipment while doing their job. Furthermore, these occupational groups used asbestos products such as joint compounds, cement, pipe block, valves, gaskets, pipe coating, and welding rods, which only contributed to their toxic exposure.

Pipefitters, steamfitters, and plumbers would also cut, saw, and sand asbestos paper, drill products that contained asbestos to fit certain dimensions, and saw and join pipes or sand down block insulation, all of which processes that released asbestos fibers into the air they were breathing. Lastly, pipefitters, steamfitters, and plumbers came in contact with asbestos by handling pumps, valves, and gaskets that were manufactured with asbestos. Pipefitters are skilled workers who are in charge of the design, installation, and repair of pipe systems, usually in large commercial buildings or manufacturing facilities. Consequently, they, along with steamfitters and plumbers, were exposed to multiple asbestos products on the job.

What asbestos products were pipefitters, steamfitters, and plumbers exposed to?

There are numerous products that contained asbestos that pipefitters, steamfitters, and plumbers would handle during their job and, to make matters worse, they were often working in close proximity to other people who handled asbestos building materials. The following are the most common asbestos products these occupational groups had to come in contact with while performing their job:

  • aircell: this is a paper that was used to wrap pipe and had asbestos in it, often looking similar to cardboard and some renowned brands of aircell including Asbestocel and Carcycel
  • block insulation: when asbestos is mixed with other materials for binding purposes, which was used to insulate the pipes, block insulation is created, which may be amosite sheeting, carbonate or magnesia, diatomaceous earth with asbestos fiber, hydrous calcium silicate, joint compound or asbestos sponge felt

The states with the largest number of pipefitters, steamfitters, and plumbers were Alaska, Virginia, Illinois, and Oregon. They would work in close proximity to boilermakers, construction workers, electricians, and HVAC mechanics. Nowadays, these occupational groups are still exposed to asbestos when they are required to remove old pipes and ducts insulated with asbestos, but most of the time, they are provided with adequate protective equipment that shields them from toxic exposure.

What companies manufactured the asbestos products pipefitters, steamfitters and plumbers were exposed to?

There are some companies that are notorious for having manufactured millions of hazardous asbestos products that pipefitters, steamfitters, and plumbers would handle on a regular basis. The following is a list of the most renowned companies that manufactured the products these occupational groups would often come in contact with on the job during the last century:

If you are a former pipefitter, steamfitter, or plumber who worked between 1940 and 1980 and came to struggle with a disease as a result of occupational asbestos exposure, we strongly encourage you to contact our legal team, as our main area of practice is toxic exposure. Thereby, we have the necessary knowledge and resources to help you recover the financial compensation you deserve for your suffering from the liable companies.

What diseases can pipefitters, steamfitters, and plumbers develop as a result of workplace asbestos exposure?

By now, it is a known fact that asbestos is a toxic and carcinogenic mineral. Consequently, exposure to asbestos, which occurs through inhalation and ingestion, can result in numerous benign and malignant diseases. The following are the diagnoses for which you do not have to travel to our law firm in Birmingham, Alabama to file a toxic exposure claim, as the legal process will unfold over the phone and via e-mail:

However, if you develop one of the diseases below, you will have to come in person to our offices so that your lungs can be carefully examined by the medical specialists we collaborate with for the presence of asbestos fibers. If asbestos fibers are found in your lungs, you qualify for filing a toxic exposure claim.

Since 1990, we have been providing quality legal assistance to victims of asbestos exposure and will gladly help you as well by filing a toxic exposure claim with all companies that are responsible for your physical and emotional suffering. Working with our law firm is free of charge unless we recover money for you, as we operate on a contingency fee basis.

File a claim for asbestos exposure with the help of our skilled legal team

With over 25 years of experience in pursuing compensation for victims of toxic exposure, our legal team has the necessary knowledge and resources to help you recover the maximum compensation you are entitled to for your diagnosis from the responsible asbestos manufacturers. Although the legal process is complex, it will require minimal involvement on your part, as we are aware that people who struggle with diseases caused by asbestos exposure are in a lot of pain. You will only have to provide our legal experts with your employment and medical records. Eventually, you will receive the largest sum of money available for your diagnosis if you decide to work with our legal team.