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Asbestos Exposure on Millwrights

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Workers in metal-related trades, such as millwrights, are at risk of developing mesothelioma because of the former widespread use of asbestos as insulation in industrial machinery and equipment. Many industrial workplaces are likely to have airborne asbestos dust. Breathing microscopic particles of asbestos is linked to mesothelioma, a cancer, and other serious respiratory disease.

Millwrights and Mesothelioma

Millwrights perform installation, maintenance and repair of many types of heat-producing industrial equipment insulated with asbestos-containing materials.  They work in a variety of industries, including power generation, wastewater treatment, oil and petrochemical and hydraulic and pneumatic systems. Millwrights work with gaskets, valve packings, and pipe coverings and use hand held power tools such as metal grinders, saws and drills that can produce airborne asbestos dust. Maintenance activities also can stir up asbestos dust.

A clinical survey of New York millwrights and machinery erectors by researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine at City University of New York showed a high prevalence of chest abnormalities, including thickening of the pleura or lining of the lung and pleural changes consistent with asbestos exposure. Nearly half of the 111 workers examined had pleural abnormalities. Meanwhile, in another study, chest x-rays of millwrights and other workers at three nuclear power plants showed 32 percent of the millwrights had abnormal x-rays and nearly half had pulmonary function abnormalities.

Millwrights who are exposed to asbestos dust at work may bring asbestos fibers home on their hair, shoes and clothing, accidentally exposing family members living in the same house to asbestos. There are documented cases of family members of asbestos workers who developed mesothelioma from second-hand exposure to asbestos.

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