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Asbestos Exposure at Paper Mills

Paper mills across the Pacific Northwest frequently contain dangerous levels of asbestos in insulation, gaskets, packing, machinery, and protective equipment. Asbestos exposure can cause deadly health conditions such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other chronic lung diseases. If you or a loved one suffered asbestos exposure at paper mills in Washington and Oregon, you need an experienced legal team that will fight for you. Contact Bergman Oslund Udo Little for a free consultation.

 Asbestos exposure at paper mills was inevitable for those working in plants where raw fibers were transformed into usable paper products. For much of the 19th and 20th centuries, paper mills were a major industry across the country. Even today, paper mills are still major employers in some areas. 

The Pacific Northwest was no exception. In the 20th century, Washington and Oregon were home to numerous major paper mills that employed thousands of skilled workers over the years. For the residents of these areas, a paper mill often brought employment and economic development opportunities. 

Unfortunately, these paper mills also brought major health risks as well. Before the 1970s, most paper mills in the Pacific Northwest extensively used asbestos-containing products in their insulation, machinery, construction, and equipment. For workers at these plants, asbestos exposure significantly increased their risk of developing severe and potentially fatal health conditions.  In many cases, paper mills continued to have asbestos containing insulation and other building materials present into the 1990s and even 2000s.  This posed a hazard to workers who were responsible for demolishing or repairing paper mill equipment and facilities. 

Fortunately, the law firm of Bergman Oslund Udo Little has the experience and dedication to fight for asbestos exposure victims like you. Read on to learn about the potential health effects of asbestos exposure at paper mills and how Bergman Oslund Udo Little can help you get the compensation you deserve.

Paper Mills in the Pacific Northwest

Washington and Oregon were major centers for paper production throughout the 20th century. St. Regis and Weyerhaeuser operated several large paper mills in Washington and Oregon. Other paper mills in the Northwest included Longview Fibre, ITT Rayonier, Crown Zellerbach, Clearwater Paper, International Paper, Georgia Pacific and Westrock. Areas with large timber production were often home to paper mills. For instance, many workers were exposed to asbestos in Cowlitz County, Washington.

Before the 1980s, asbestos was seen as an effective means of insulating paper mill equipment against fire hazards. Pipes, gaskets, and boilers often included asbestos insulation. Many substances commonly used in paper production, such as felt and talc, often contained asbestos. In some cases, raw asbestos was used in the paper making process.

Asbestos was also commonly contained in the building materials used in constructing paper mills. Workers in these mills could be exposed to asbestos from walls, ceilings, floors, boilers, pipes, and doors. Pumps and valves were also common in paper mills.  That machinery often contained asbestos containing gaskets and packing materials. 

By the 1970s, it was well known in medical science how dangerous asbestos can be to human health. Few paper mills constructed today contain the same levels of asbestos as the older mills. However, many older paper mills still in operation contain asbestos in their machinery, pipes, boilers, and other areas. Residents of Washington and Oregon who worked in paper mills over the past few decades could have suffered prolonged exposure. 

In most cases, liability for asbestos exposure at paper mills lies with the manufacturers of the materials and products that contain asbestos. In addition, paper mills themselves can be held responsible for failing to warn or protect workers invited onto their properties to perform work.  If you have suffered asbestos exposure at a paper mill, it is important to consult with an experienced asbestos attorney to determine who is liable.

Causes of Asbestos Exposure for Paper Mill Workers

Asbestos is most dangerous when small particles become released into the open air. In paper mills, asbestos materials can be disturbed, releasing microscopic particles. If this happens, anyone nearby can potentially breathe it in. Once inhaled, these particles go into the lungs and accumulate over time. The more asbestos you’re exposed to, the greater your risk of developing health complications.


Mesothelioma is a cancer of the mesothelium, the thin tissue that lines your internal organs. Because asbestos is commonly inhaled, mesothelioma most often affects the mesothelium around the lungs.

Mesothelioma is one of the deadlier forms of cancer and is particularly difficult to treat. Asbestos exposure is the only known cause of mesothelioma


Asbestosis is a long-term pulmonary disease caused exclusively by exposure to asbestos. Paper mill workers who breathe in asbestos fibers can suffer permanent lung scarring and inflammation. 

Asbestosis causes chronic coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, wheezing, and chronic fatigue. It can exacerbate upper respiratory infections, making them more likely to turn fatal. Asbestosis can also cause additional cardiopulmonary diseases, such as heart disease and lung cancer.

Lung Cancer

Asbestos exposure also greatly increases your risk of developing lung cancer. Lung cancer occurs when a harmful substance in the air you breathe damages the cells in your lungs. When this happens, the damaged DNA in these cells can cause malignant tumors. 

Lung cancer is still one of the deadliest forms of cancer today. Unlike mesothelioma and asbestosis, lung cancer is not exclusively caused by asbestos exposure. However, if you have recently been diagnosed with lung cancer and have worked at a paper mill that may have contained asbestos, an experienced asbestos lawyer in Washington or Oregon can help you establish clear liability. 

Mesothelioma and Paper Mill Workers

Residents of Washington and Oregon who suffered asbestos exposure at paper mills are at a high risk for mesothelioma. Mesothelioma diagnoses are particularly important for asbestos liability cases because asbestos exposure is the only known cause.

Common mesothelioma symptoms are shortness of breath, chest pains, coughing, wheezing, pain or swelling in your abdomen, unexplained weight loss, and fatigue. A mesothelioma diagnosis involves medical imaging of your lungs to identify any masses in your mesothelium. If your doctors suspect mesothelioma, they may order a tissue biopsy for a definitive diagnosis. 

The most common treatment for mesothelioma is chemotherapy. Some mesothelioma patients undergo radiation therapy and surgery as well, though these are only recommended in certain cases. If your mesothelioma is detected early, you will likely have a better long-term prognosis. 

Can Paper Mill Workers Receive Legal Compensation?

Mesothelioma, asbestosis, or lung cancer diagnoses can affect you and your family. If you suffer from health issues due to asbestos exposure at paper mills, it is important to take legal action so you and your family can get the compensation you deserve. 

The law firm of Bergman Oslund Udo Little specializes in asbestos exposure cases. Our dedicated asbestos lawyers in Oregon and Washington have the experience needed to fight for asbestos victims like you. 

Our track record includes major victories for residents of Washington and Oregon who suffered asbestos exposure at paper mills. Our case results include: 

  • $4.6 Million to a man diagnosed with mesothelioma at age 61. He was exposed to asbestos while working as an electrician for St. Regis Paper Mill in Tacoma, Washington, and at the Lockheed shipyard in Seattle.
  • $1.4 Million to a man diagnosed with mesothelioma at age 63. He was exposed to asbestos at Crown Zellerbach in Portland, Oregon, at an Alcoa Aluminum Plant, and as a delivery driver and stocker at a NAPA store.

Companies responsible for asbestos exposure at paper mills often have the money and power to keep themselves from being held accountable. But the legal team at Bergman Oslund Udo Little has the experience and dedication to stand up to these companies and get you the compensation you deserve. We know all about asbestos

Contact Bergman Oslund Udo Little 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

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