Asbestos exposure has occurred in numerous workplace and industrial locales in Louisiana. Despite the fact that asbestos-related diseases were identified by medical professionals in the 1920s, the use of asbestos was not banned and not even regulated until 1970. Asbestos exposure and the resulting diseases like mesothelioma are frighteningly common in Louisiana. The following are the most common areas of exposure.
Many incidents of asbestos exposure have taken place in and around shipyards. This is particularly the case in southern Louisiana, where the prevalence and duration of port industries means that many generations may feel the adverse effects of exposure. Specific locations include the Avondale, Bolinger, Todd, Higgins, North Florida and Harvey shipyards.
Oil fields are prevalent in Louisiana, and workers used to wear their work clothing home that was contaminated with asbestos fibers, causing mesothelioma to develop not only in workers, but in their family members. Pipefitters, welders, electricians and just about every other craft were at risk due to the asbestos that was used to insulate pipes. .
Pulp and paper is big business in Louisiana, and in the past, it was usual practice to insulate the high-temperature equipment used at these facilities with asbestos. This is typical of any type of industry where extreme heat is an essential component of the manufacturing process, and is particularly prevalent in older plants. International Paper in Cullen, Bogalusa Paper Mill in Bogalusa, Olin Matheison Paper Mill in Monroe, Georgia Pacific Paper Mill in Baton Rouge, and Kraft Paper Mill in Pineville have all been identified as sources of asbestos contamination.
Insulation plants used to produce fire retardant insulation that contained asbestos. It was marketed under several brand names, and commonly known as vermiculite. Workers were exposed to airborne particles and also brought them home on their clothes to their unsuspecting families.
Asbestos breaks down over time making it easier for the particles to become airborne. When that happens, workers are far more susceptible to ingestion of the toxic fibers. Family members of workers at Louisiana insulation plants were also at risk for exposure to asbestos since the fibers would unknowingly be brought home from work on clothing and other materials.
Asbestos is resistant to various types of reactive chemicals, and, because of this, has been used a great deal in Louisiana chemical plants. It was believed that asbestos that wasn’t disturbed was safe, and when it was first used in chemical plants it was installed in solid form as a coating for pipes, equipment or counters. However, as it aged, it became brittle, crumbled, and entered the air. It was then breathed in by workers and taken home on clothing.
Even after the dangers of asbestos exposure were known, the asbestos industry marketed chrysotile, a type of asbestos, to chemical plants, claiming that it was a safe type of asbestos. It wasn’t.
Asbestos as a building material was so common for so many years that virtually anyone who worked in construction would have been exposed. Masons, plumbers, carpenters and insulators were at risk, as were roofers (asbestos in shingles), demolition experts (brittle, airborne material in products being removed), drywall installers (asbestos in tape and compounds for taping) and general contractors, who oversaw the entire building process were all exposed.
Asbestos was commonly used in power plants because of its resistance to heat and reactive chemicals. Many workers were exposed.
The Automotive Sector
Countless workers have been exposed to the asbestos used in brake pads and shoes. Auto manufacturing isn’t the culprit here – rather, it’s countless repair shops across Louisiana.
Asbestos exposure in Louisiana has led to tragic results for workers and their families. If you or a loved one has become ill because of asbestos exposure, call Landry & Swarr at 504-299-1214 to speak to an attorney.