Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos exposure can cause serious health complications if its fibers are ingested after becoming airborne. This can lead to the development of severe illnesses such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis. The symptoms of these asbestos-related diseases include shortness of breath, coughing, and chest pain, may not appear until 20 to 60 years after exposure. If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with an asbestos related illness, an experienced asbestos exposure attorney can help you get the compensation you deserve.

    Add a header to begin generating the table of contents

    Asbestos is a durable, heat-resistant mineral widely used in shipyards, power plants, paper mills, nuclear facilities, and oil refineries. Over 60 countries have banned the import or use of asbestos, but it remains legal in the U.S. in limited quantities. 

    Asbestos exposure can cause life-altering medical conditions. Microscopic asbestos fibers can be released into the air when asbestos is disturbed or damaged. Once inhaled or ingested, these fibers may get stuck in the mesothelium, the membrane protecting most of their internal organs. Over time, these fibers scar and inflame the mesothelium, scarring, and thickening, sometimes referred to as plaques. Cancerous tumors may also develop, leading to mesothelioma. 

    Bergman Oslund Udo Little can advise you about asbestos exposure, determine the validity of your asbestos case, and fight tooth and nail to secure maximum compensation for your exposure.

    Where Does Asbestos Exposure Happen?

    • Asbestos exposure happens when people disturb asbestos by interacting with products containing asbestos. Job sites with asbestos exposure include: 

    • Shipyards – used asbestos in vessels and shipyard buildings. Asbestos lined engine spaces, steam pipes, boiler rooms, and other high-temperature areas. 
    • Power plants – often used asbestos insulation for boilers, pipes, and turbines. 
    • Nuclear facilities – frequently use asbestos in steam equipment, fireproofing, machinery, and buildings.
    • Oil refineries – used asbestos in pipes and equipment to prevent combustion risks and insulate against high temperatures in refinery processes. Asbestos was also found in building materials, machinery, and safety gear. 
    • Paper mills – used asbestos in and around boilers, pipes, turbines, and machinery. Asbestos was used in felts used to dry pulp during papermaking. Paper mill workers were also exposed to asbestos when creating asbestos paper products.

    Common Products That Lead to Asbestos Exposure

    Shipyards, power plants, and other workplaces frequently used asbestos-containing products before the 1980s. Common products that lead to asbestos exposure included the following: 

    • Gaskets and packing: Asbestos was used to make gaskets fit between pieces and pipes. Over time, these gaskets broke down and exposed workers to asbestos. Pumps and valves used asbestos packing to create a heat and corrosion-resistant seal. 
    • Brakes: Asbestos was used in brake linings. When asbestos-containing brakes degrade over time, they release asbestos fibers into the air and onto people’s skin, clothes, and hair.  
    • Insulation for pipes and boilers: Pipe and boiler insulation often contained asbestos. As they deteriorate over time, these products can become friable, causing asbestos exposure. 
    • Asbestos cement pipe: Asbestos cement pipes, often called transite or “AC” pipe was widely used in water supply and wastewater systems. Asbestos fibers were mixed into the concrete mixture to increase strength and pressure resistance. Plumbers and contractors cutting, sanding, or beveling asbestos cement pipes could be exposed to high levels of asbestos dust. 
    • Talc: Talc products may contain asbestos since talc and asbestos deposits naturally form together. Talc is often found in baby and body powders, paint, ceramics, crayons, and industrial products. 
    • Drywall: Old drywall compound often contained asbestos. People may be exposed to asbestos during a remodeling project or construction.

    At-Risk Jobs

    Some professions are at a higher risk of asbestos exposure, such as the following: 

    • Boiler workers may have come into contact with asbestos while installing, manufacturing, and repairing boilers.  
    • Construction workers who work inside older homes and buildings may experience asbestos exposure, especially if they interact with siding, plaster, and floor and ceiling tiles. 
    • Firefighters may come into contact with asbestos fibers when fighting fires in buildings built before 1980.  
    • Industrial workers may come into contact with asbestos when handling gaskets, refractory products, and valves. They may also have worn asbestos-containing protective clothing to resist high temperatures. 
    • Insulators were exposed to asbestos-containing products until the 1980s. Insulators still experience asbestos exposure when working in older buildings, homes, schools, and ships. 
    • Machine operators who operate heavy equipment, such as cranes and bulldozers, often come into contact with asbestos in brake linings.  
    • Pipefitters are exposed to asbestos from boilers and pipes built before the 1980s. 
    • Sheet metal workers were exposed to asbestos when sawing, cutting, and distributing asbestos-treated metal products. They were also exposed to asbestos through insulated walls and asbestos pipes. 
    • Electricians are exposed to asbestos from insulation products and electrical components. 
    • Aircraft mechanics may have come into contact with asbestos while replacing high-friction materials, such as heat shields, clutches, and brakes.  

    If you may have been exposed, contact an asbestos lawyer in Washington or Oregon as soon as possible.

    Asbestos Exposure and Veterans

    Although the military largely stopped using asbestos in the late 1970s, ships, living quarters, and vehicles still contain the material. Veterans may have also been exposed while serving in another country.  

    Here are the top sources of military asbestos exposure: 

    • Navy ships: The Navy used asbestos in amphibious assault ships, cruisers, carriers, destroyers, and tugboats. 
    • Navy shipyards: According to Occupational Environmental Medicine, the Navy began removing asbestos in the 1970s, but the process is incomplete. Navy shipyard personnel remain at risk of asbestos exposure at home and abroad. There is asbestos at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Guam Naval Shipyard, Norfolk Naval Shipyard, and several other active shipyards. 
    • Land vehicles: Trucks and jeeps often had asbestos-containing brake linings, clutches, brake pads, industrial adhesives, and engine gaskets. 
    • Coast Guard vessels: Cutters contain a small amount of asbestos. However, there is no safe level of asbestos, especially in enclosed areas aboard ships. Asbestos-containing materials can wear down, leading to asbestos exposure. 
    • Heavy machinery: The Army uses heavy machinery for demolition, construction, and moving artillery. These machines often contain asbestos friction materials, such as clutches, brake linings, and brake pads. Lubricants, engine gaskets, and electrical wiring may also contain asbestos. 
    • Tanks: The Army & Marines used asbestos materials in tanks for heat protection. Because tanks are prone to severe vibration, asbestos-containing products can easily become damaged, releasing asbestos. 
    • Communication centers: From the 1930s to the late 1970s, asbestos was used in construction materials, spray-on and wrapped insulation, cable ducts, and many other telecommunication products. 

    Veterans exposed to asbestos may be eligible for VA compensation.

    FAQs About Asbestos

    What if You Are Exposed to Asbestos?

    High levels of asbestos exposure can cause asbestosis. The risks of developing asbestos lung cancer or mesothelioma are relatively low—less than 10 percent—even for heavily exposed workers but the risk is lifelong and increases with age. People who experience long-term asbestos exposure have a higher chance of developing asbestos lung cancer, mesothelioma and other asbestos-related disease.

    In the 1980s, the government attempted to eliminate certain asbestos materials from production and circulation. After years of litigation, very few new products contain asbestos. Notably, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is still working to ban additional asbestos products. Even so, some products still contain asbestos as recently as a few years ago. Examples include: 

    • Adhesives 
    • Plastics 
    • Gaskets 
    • Electrical components 
    • Talc

    Asbestos is not banned in the United States. Although the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency attempted to ban many asbestos products in the 1980s, that ban was significantly restricted following litigation. Thus, importing and using asbestos in small amounts is still legal. Many foreign countries still mine and sell asbestos products.

    • Asbestos is a mineral fiber that is mined out of rock. Due to its heat-resistant qualities, asbestos was used extensively in industry and onboard ships for thermal insulation. Asbestos was also used as a binder in numerous drywall and cement products.
    • Asbestos is not dangerous in its inert form. However, when it is cut or disturbed, asbestos releases millions of microscopic fibers into the atmosphere. These fibers, when inhaled deep into the lung, can cause irreversible injury to humans.
    • Dr. Irving Selikoff, one of the foremost researchers in the field, once observed that “asbestos does not respect job classifications.” He meant that the fibers that cause asbestos diseases are invisible and travel throughout the work area. Just because you never worked with asbestos does not mean you were never exposed.
    • Our firm has represented hundreds of sailors, plumbers, electricians, ship scalars, painters, riggers, carpenters, janitors, sheet metal workers, millwrights, and other trades who never personally worked with asbestos but suffered from serous asbestos diseases. We have also represented spouses and family members who were exposed to asbestos indirectly from washing their husband’s or father’s clothing.
    • Under the laws of Washington and Oregon, every company that manufactured and supplied an asbestos product to which you were exposed is potentially liable for your asbestos injury. Thus, in prosecuting an asbestos lawsuit, one of the biggest challenges is identifying the manufacturers of the asbestos products to which you were exposed.
    • We have detailed product identification information on hundreds of job sites in Washington, Oregon, and Alaska, as well as hundreds of Navy vessels. Even if you do not know the manufacturers of the asbestos products that you worked around, we can probably identify some of the products to which you may have been exposed based on the job sites where you worked.

    Asbestos Lawyers in Washington and Oregon

    Receiving a diagnosis for an asbestos-related illness can be overwhelming, even with insurance covering the bulk of your medical costs.

    At Bergman Oslund Udo Little, we stand ready to assist. Our skilled attorneys specialize in asbestos exposure and mesothelioma litigation in Oregon and Washington, advocating tirelessly for victims and their families. Our empathetic team will meticulously assess your situation to establish if you have grounds for a compensation claim. Should you qualify, we are committed to assisting you in collecting and safeguarding crucial evidence, constructing a robust case, negotiating with the opposing parties, and representing you in court when needed.

    To explore your legal options, contact us today. In addition to offering complimentary resources about asbestos-related illnesses and a detailed guide to mesothelioma, we also provide free case evaluations.

      Add a header to begin generating the table of contents
      Seattle Office
      520 Pike St. #1125
      Seattle, WA 98101
      Portland Office
      1355 NW Everett St.
      Suite 100
      Portland, OR 97204
      $13 Million
      $11.2 Million
      $10 Million
      $8.3 Million
      $6.8 Million
      $6.3 Million
      Contact The Firm

      Representing Asbestos and Mesothelioma Clients Throughout the Northwest.

      520 Pike St.
      Seattle, WA 98101

      1355 NW Everett St.
      Suite 100
      Portland, OR 97204

      Scroll to Top