Today, approximately 70,000 U.S. residents are employed as millwrights. This exclusive group of talented individuals is tasked with both installing and handling the repair needs of the heavy-duty equipment and machinery used throughout the country. Where there’s a large generator, boiler, conveyor system, or large turbine, there’s also a millwright nearby to keep it running. One of the things that keeps most millwrights busy is repairing old equipment or removing equipment and systems that are too outdated or damaged to be used anymore.

Millwrights and Asbestos

Millwrights who deal with systems that were built prior to the 1980s have the distinction of being a group of workers who still comes into contact with asbestos on a regular basis. There was a time when this wouldn’t have bothered anyone, but we now know that inhaling or ingesting the microscopic asbestos fibers can have deadly results.

Once asbestos fibers are inhaled or ingested, they can’t be expelled. While nothing appears to happen at the time of inhalation or ingestion, the microscopic fibers are actually embedding themselves into the tissues of the lung, heart, or stomach. Scar tissue and tumors can then form as the body attempts to expel them. It can 20 to 50 years, however, asbestos exposure can lead to mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer.

Millwrights and Asbestos-Related Diseases

Due to the long latency period, someone exposed to asbestos often won’t be diagnosed with these illnesses until they’ve passed their 50th birthday. If the millwright is also a smoker, they’ll often be diagnosed with asbestos lung cancer. This diagnosis is interesting because what the doctor is really saying is that while asbestos was a factor, there were also other factors, such as smoking, that caused the cancer, and that it’s possible the cancer would have developed even if the millwright hadn’t been exposed to the asbestos. The good news is that the asbestos lung cancer allows the millwright to gain access to funds set aside for asbestos victims.

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that’s only caused by asbestos fibers. It’s a malignant disease. It’s most commonly found in the lining of the lungs, but it’s also seen in the stomach and heart lining. It’s difficult to treat. While the stats show that the overall prognosis for someone who has been diagnosed with mesothelioma is poor, it’s important to note that when the disease is caught in the early stages, doctors can use chemo, radiation, and surgery to drastically extend the patient’s life expectancy. That’s why millwrights who work with old equipment or who were employed in the industry prior to the 1980s should arrange for routine, regular screening sessions.

Asbestosis is a very painful pulmonary disease that involves scar tissue in the lungs. The scar tissue is caused when the asbestos fibers irritate the lining. Over time, the scar tissue builds up, diminishing lung capacity, and making it difficult for the millwright to breathe. It’s a very painful condition.

Once the long-term effects of inhaling asbestos fibers was discovered and the U.S. court system realized how many millwrights would be diagnosed, steps were taken to set aside approximately $30 million to help patients with their medical costs. If you’ve been diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness, you should speak with a lawyer to learn more about this fund.