The world relies on oil for practically every aspect of modern life. It’s an important part of travel, manufacturing, and even heating our homes. Oil field workers are responsible for many different jobs, from tending to the elaborate piping system that draws oil from the ground to pumping it to the refinery where it’s converted into diesel fuel, lubricating oils, asphalt, liquid petroleum gas, paraffin wax, nylon, and plastics.
Unfortunately, the individuals employed on the oil fields prior to the 1980s faced an unknown risk that may now be damaging their health. If you worked in the oil industry, there’s a high risk that you’ve been exposed to asbestos. This deadly toxin can lead to serious, life-threatening diseases.
Asbestos Risks for Oil Field Workers
Asbestos has a long latency period. It’s not uncommon for an oil field worker to not exhibit any symptoms of asbestos-related problems for 20-50 years after they were exposed to the fibers.
The two most common asbestos illnesses are mesothelioma and asbestosis. Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer that develops years after the initial asbestos exposure. The cancer is difficult to diagnose and difficult to treat, although surgery, chemo, and radiation have helped significantly extend patients’ lives. The cancer is most commonly found in the lining of the lungs, but it can also form around the heart and stomach lining. The sooner the cancer is detected, the better the patient’s chance of survival, which is why oil field workers should see their doctors and get screened often.
Asbestosis is another serious illness that occurs when asbestos fibers cause scar tissue to form in the lungs. As time goes on and the scar tissue thickens, the oil field worker develops severe chest pain and has difficulty breathing.
Some oil field workers, especially those that smoked, have been diagnosed with asbestos lung cancer.
How Oil Field Workers Were Exposed to Asbestos
Working in oil fields is incredibly risky. On any given day, there’s a number of things that can go horribly wrong. Those who worked on oil fields during the 1970s were exposed to constant danger, but no one realized that the biggest threat loomed unseen. Asbestos was used practically everywhere on oil fields. It covered machinery, insulated pipes, and was even woven into the protective clothing that oil field workers wore to prevent burns. Because asbestos is extremely friable, it can easily be released into the air. Anytime it is ingested or inhaled, it can make people sick.
If you’re an oil field worker who’s been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, you should know that you don’t have to bear the financial burden of your medical expenses alone. Approximately $30 billion dollars have been set aside to help cover the medical and living expenses of individuals who’ve developed asbestos-related health problems.
Working on an oil field dramatically increases your chances for asbestos-related illnesses like mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer. All oil field workers should have routine medical screenings for early detection of these diseases. If you are diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness, contact an asbestos attorney to find out if you are eligible to compensation for your injuries.