Textile mills serve a very important function. They take in natural and synthetic fibers and process them into the clothing we all wear. In addition to turning cotton into jeans and wool into sweaters, the textile mill workers also dye fabric and treat it so it doesn’t shrink or wrinkle badly when washed. In the past, textile mill workers put in long days, worked very hard, and earned very little money. Now, most textile mills rely on machinery for labor.
Prior to the 1980s, when most textile mill workers were hands on and worked long hours, a majority of the fabric they dealt with contained asbestos, which was used to make protective, heat-resistant clothing. At the time, no one knew that the same asbestos fibers were slowly killing the textile mill workers.
When left alone, asbestos isn’t particularly dangerous, but when it’s disturbed, small particles are dispersed into the air. If these particles are inhaled, the fibers embed themselves into the lung tissue causing inflammation and scarring. Years later, this can lead to life-threatening diseases like asbestosis, lung cancer, or mesothelioma. While textile mills have stopped working with asbestos fibers, anyone who works in a mill that was constructed before 1980 or that uses really old equipment is at risk of exposure. In addition, individuals who worked in mills in the 1960s and 70s may have suffered harm from exposure to asbestos fibers.
Asbestos Exposure at Textile Mills
There are a variety of different ways textile mill workers were exposed to deadly asbestos fibers. The textile mill workers who were most at risk of developing an asbestos-related health problem are the ones that prepared the raw materials. These individuals were responsible for cleaning, carding, and spinning the asbestos into the fabric. Maintenance workers were also likely to encounter asbestos. Many of the pipes, gaskets, and insulation used in the plant contained some asbestos.
The mill workers weren’t the only people who were exposed to the asbestos. It wasn’t unusual for a textile mill worker to leave the mill and still have many of the fibers clinging to their hair, skin, and clothing. When they went home, those fibers could become airborne and put the health of the entire family in jeopardy. This secondhand exposure has been documented among the children and spouses of textile mill workers who were diagnosed with mesothelioma later in life.
Consult With an Asbestos Lawyer to Learn About Your Options
Those who have been unknowingly exposed to asbestos have legal options. If you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, or asbestos lung cancer, you owe it to yourself to meet with an experienced asbestos lawyer. Doing so can help you determine whether filing a lawsuit or seeking a settlement can help you gain compensation to help you pay for your medical care.
For individuals who have lost a loved one because of mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, consulting with an asbestos lawyer can provide valuable information about your ability to seek compensation in a wrongful death suit.