Grinders and Mesothelioma

Toxic Dust in Air Creates Mesothelioma Risk for Grinders

You operate a grinding machine. You use that machine to fashion materials to precise shapes and dimensions.

Exposure to asbestos occurs in the course of performing that work.

As a result, you run a moderate to high risk of someday being stricken by mesothelioma.

The asbestos you encounter through your job comes from many sources. These include:

  • Grinding wheels

  • Grinding machine core parts

  • Heat-shielded metals

  • Concrete pipes

You can also encounter asbestos from sources other than those that you actually lay your hands upon.

For example, if you operate a portable grinder at a construction site you’ll be exposed even if you do nothing but stand around idle all day.

What happens at a construction site is you work in proximity to other trades that work with materials containing asbestos.  You’ll be around drywall, floor tiles, roofing materials, insulation, window frames — you name it.

It all contains asbestos. And because it’s there and you’re there, you’ve got plenty of asbestos exposure risk.

Actually, your chances of being exposed to asbestos at a construction site where a building has never stood before is far smaller than if the site once had or still has a building.

Here’s why. Construction materials made since the 1980s normally are asbestos-free.

But you can pretty much bet that the construction materials contain asbestos if you’re at a site where the job involves a remodel, renovation, expansion or demolition of a building put up before the 1980s.

Asbestos Causes Mesothelioma

Asbestos is used in construction materials and the materials you grind. It’s even in the grinding equipment itself because asbestos makes things fireproof. It also insulates things against high heat and makes them stronger, lighter and better looking.Asbestos is a mineral. There’s a lot of it buried in the earth and it’s easy to mine. Those two qualities make it cheap to obtain and use.

Because it works so well and is economical, manufacturers made extensive use of it beginning in the early part of the 20th century.

They’d still be using it extensively today were it not for government.  Officials and regulators realized how dangerous asbestos is to human health and forced manufacturers to dial it back or entirely give it up.

The harm caused by asbestos begins when tiny particles of the mineral find their way into the air.

Asbestos gets into the air when you grind materials containing asbestos, as an asbestos-containing grinding wheel wears down, and any time you unbutton a grinding machine to maintain or repair it.

Airborne asbestos poses a threat to your health because you might inhale or swallow it.

If it gets inside you it will stay there always. And if it’s inside you, it will try to change your body’s healthy cells to cancer.

The cells it will try to change are called mesothelial cells. These form the thin, protective lining that surrounds your lungs, intestines and heart. The lining is called the mesothelium.

It takes decades for asbestos inside you to produce mesothelioma. But once it happens, the cancer grows and spreads with truly terrifying speed unless you immediately get medical attention for it.

Unions Protest Mesothelioma

As a grinder, you may belong to one of several different unions, depending on the type of grinding you do and the setting in which you work.

For example, if you turn brake drums in an automotive repair shop, you might belong to the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America.

Or, if you help fabricate precision parts for a defense contractor, you might belong to the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

These and other unions see mesothelioma as a scourge.

For that reason, each has made it a point to set up programs designed to educate members about the dangers of asbestos and how to be safe while working with or around it.

Your union might also offer help lining up for you the medical attention that you’ll surely need if you’ve been exposed to asbestos.

Find out more about these programs and services by getting in touch with your union representatives today.