Call us today, phones answered 24/7
Call us today, phones answered 24/7

Asbestos Exposure at Oil Refineries

For years, oil refineries exposed workers to dangerous levels of asbestos through insulation, machinery, safety gear, and construction materials. Long-term asbestos exposure can cause severe health problems, including deadly diseases like mesothelioma and lung cancer. If you or a loved one suffered asbestos exposure at oil refineries in Washington or Oregon, you need an experienced legal team to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact the dedicated asbestos attorneys of Bergman Oslund Udo Little for a free consultation.

The Pacific Northwest region of the United States has traditionally been an epicenter for oil refining. Today, Washington has the fifth-highest capacity for oil refining nationally. Given the prominence of oil refineries across Washington and Oregon, many residents of these states either work or have worked in an oil refinery in some capacity. 

Unfortunately, oil refinery jobs often brought with them an increased risk of asbestos exposure. Throughout the 20th Century, most oil refineries used asbestos products in building materials, insulation, in machinery like pumps, valves, and boilers, and even protective equipment issued to workers. This exposure puts oil refinery workers at a greater risk of developing severe health issues like mesothelioma. 

While fewer oil refineries use asbestos products today, anyone working at an oil refinery is still at risk of exposure. If you or a loved one was recently diagnosed with an asbestos-related health issue caused by work in an oil refinery, you need experienced and dedicated attorneys in your corner. The legal team at Bergman Oslund Udo Little has an unsurpassed track record of fighting for Washington and Oregon residents suffering from mesothelioma. Learn how asbestos exposure at oil refineries can impact you and how Bergman Oslund Udo Little can get you the compensation you deserve.

Oil Refineries in Washington & Oregon

Oil refining is one of the largest industries in Washington and Oregon. Today, oil refineries are among the largest employers in many areas of the Pacific Northwest. The Puget Sound Refinery in Anacortes alone is the largest single employer in Skagit County. 

Beginning in the 1950s, areas such as Skagit County saw a boom in oil refinery jobs. At the time, this provided a much-needed economic boost to the area, with thousands of Pacific Northwest residents flocking to these counties due to the abundance of oil refinery jobs. Thanks to the large-scale oil refining operations across this area, millions of Washingtonians and Oregonians have at least some experience working in the oil refining industry.

However, oil refineries are also one of the more dangerous asbestos-exposure sources. This is due to asbestos’s unique thermal and electrical insulation properties. The oil refining process requires high temperatures and the risks of chemical combustion. For much of the 20th Century, oil refineries mitigated these risks through the extensive use of asbestos products. 

Oil refinery workers were commonly exposed to asbestos through insulation materials, sealants, ceiling tiles, drywall, and even protective clothing. Oil refineries often used asbestos gaskets in their machinery to reduce the risk of accidental combustion. While the use of these gaskets declined in the 1980s, they still exist in the older machines and pipes of oil refineries across Washington and Oregon. 

The use of asbestos in oil refineries is particularly dangerous due to the high risk of exposure to asbestos particles in the air. When machine parts containing asbestos undergo friction or asbestos gaskets are removed for cleaning or maintenance, microscopic particles can be released into the air. Anyone in the area can inhale these particles. When this happens, the asbestos particles accumulate in the person’s lungs and other organs, causing long-term health effects. 

If you suffered asbestos exposure at work in Washington and Oregon, legal responsibility lies with the manufacturers of any products containing asbestos used in your refinery.

Risk of Asbestos Exposure at Oil Refineries

Because asbestos exposure usually comes through inhaling asbestos particles through the air, the most common health effects of asbestos exposure impact the lungs. Today, doctors and medical scientists recognize that asbestos exposure can cause several severe pulmonary diseases, many of which can be debilitating and life-threatening. 

The most common health effects of asbestos exposure are: 


Mesothelioma is a deadly form of cancer that affects the tissue surrounding the lungs called the mesothelium. When you inhale asbestos particles, these particles accumulate within your mesothelium and eventually cause cancer cells to develop. 

Unfortunately, mesothelioma is a particularly deadly type of cancer. It can be difficult to diagnose and is often resistant to many common cancer drugs and treatments—especially in its later stages.  The long-term prognosis of a mesothelioma diagnosis is poor, with the average survival rate being between 12 and 21 months following diagnosis. Only 7.5 percent of patients survive five years or longer.

The only known cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure.


Breathing in asbestos particles can also cause a chronic lung disease called asbestosis. Oil refinery workers exposed to asbestos fibers in the air can suffer chronic lung scarring and inflammation. This causes other debilitating pulmonary symptoms, including shortness of breath, chest pain, coughing, and wheezing. In addition to these life-altering symptoms, asbestosis can also cause potentially fatal health problems such as lung cancer and pulmonary artery disease. 

As with mesothelioma, the only known cause of asbestosis is asbestos exposure. 

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is another risk of long-term asbestos exposure at oil refineries. Inhaling asbestos particles can cause damage to the DNA in the cells of your lungs. Over time, this damage causes malignant tumors to form. 

Like mesothelioma, lung cancer is particularly deadly, with a poor long-term prognosis. Though treatments have improved recently, a lung cancer diagnosis can still cause pain, disability, and extensive medical costs.

Mesothelioma and Oil Refinery Workers

Oil refinery workers exposed to asbestos are at a high risk of developing mesothelioma. Because mesothelioma is only caused by asbestos exposure, a mesothelioma diagnosis points to long-term asbestos exposure in your past. In some cases, mesothelioma does not develop until 20 years or more after initial asbestos exposure. 

The main symptoms of mesothelioma are shortness of breath, chest pains, coughing, wheezing, pain or swelling in your abdomen, unexplained weight loss, and fatigue. Early diagnosis is critical, as early mesothelioma is more easily treated than advanced stages. Unfortunately, diagnosis can often be difficult, as the early symptoms often mirror many other conditions. Doctors who suspect mesothelioma in a patient will usually order imaging and biopsy to get a definitive diagnosis.  

Chemotherapy is the most common treatment for mesothelioma. Doctors may also recommend radiation therapy and surgery on affected tissue, though these treatments have lower rates of success. 

Oil Refinery Workers Deserve Compensation

Mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases can cause significant pain, stress, and financial hardship for you and your loved ones. If you suffer from the health effects of asbestos exposure at oil refineries, you need to know your legal options to get the compensation you deserve. 

Getting compensation for mesothelioma requires a legal team with a proven track record fighting for asbestos victims. Since 1995, the dedicated attorneys at Bergman Oslund Udo Little have fought for victims of asbestos exposure at oil refineries across Oregon and Washington. 

If you or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with mesothelioma or a related health condition and believe asbestos exposure at an oil refinery was to blame, you need experienced attorneys in your corner. Contact Bergman Oslund Udo Little today for a free mesothelioma case review.

Contact The Firm

Representing asbestos and mesothelioma clients throughout the Northwest.

1355 NW Everett St.
Suite 100
Portland, OR 97204

Scroll to Top