Mesothelioma in Factory Workers

Before the 1980s, countless factory workers were exposed to a deadly substance called asbestos. As a result, many factory workers have developed asbestos-related diseases like malignant mesothelioma. Get help if you or a loved one worked in a factory and now has this cancer.

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Why Are Factory Workers at Risk of Mesothelioma?

Factory workers make a wide range of products out of raw materials. But, between the 1930s and early 1980s, many factory workers often came into contact with a substance called asbestos.

Factory workerMajor manufacturers hid the risks of asbestos for decades, but today it's known that anyone who was exposed could develop a deadly cancer called mesothelioma.

Factory workers that handled asbestos-containing products 10-50 years ago are only now getting diagnosed, as this cancer takes decades to develop. But, once diagnosed, long-term survival is poor.

Factory workers deserve the best health care and financial compensation if they are now suffering from mesothelioma. Thankfully, both are available with our team's help. Further, workers that also served in the U.S. military might qualify for benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Learn more in our Free Veterans Packet.

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Factory Workers and Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos is a durable, fiber-like material that was used to make over 3,000 different products, many of which had to be assembled or produced in factories. However, during factory work, asbestos fibers could be released into the air.

“It kind of looked like a snowstorm [due to the asbestos]. It was always dusty without fail.”

Asbestos Factory Worker With Mesothelioma

Without proper safety equipment, factory workers could inhale or swallow asbestos dust and possibly develop mesothelioma later in life.

Factory workers were exposed to asbestos from:

  • Conveying systems, which were made from compounds containing asbestos
  • Factory shipments, which may have contained raw asbestos or asbestos-based products
  • Grinding machines, which were used to polish the surfaces of products being manufactured
  • Walls of factories, as drywall, bricks, cement, and tiles could all have been made from asbestos

Further, the poor ventilation and cramped spaces in factories meant that the fibers could linger in the air for long periods of time, putting anyone working inside at risk.

Even factory workers who didn't handle asbestos-based products directly were put at risk of exposure if they walked through manufacturing areas or had offices near production lines.

Secondhand Asbestos Exposure Risks and Factory Workers

Factory workers may have accidentally put their loved ones' lives in danger due to what's known as secondhand asbestos exposure.

As asbestos dust was released in factories, the fibers covered workers' uniforms and clothing. Upon returning home, the fibers could settle in factory workers' houses where their family members could inhale them.

Factory Jobs and Risks of Mesothelioma

Any factory worker could develop mesothelioma if asbestos was being used. That said, some factory workers were put in harm's way on a daily basis depending on what jobs they had.

High-risk asbestos factory jobs included:

  • Drill operators: This job involved drilling holes in products that could have been made with asbestos. This caused the asbestos fibers to become airborne.
  • Grinding machine operators: These workers often inhaled asbestos fibers when fragments from grinding wheels broke off.
  • Machine maintenance crews: This job involved repairing conveyor belts with inserts containing asbestos and replacing asbestos bearings on machinery that involved a lot of friction.

Were you exposed to asbestos as a factory worker? Contact us to get help if you now have mesothelioma. Medical care and compensation are available.

Asbestos-Containing Products in Factories

Factory workerAsbestos could be found throughout factories from the 1930s to the early 1980s when the dangers finally became public knowledge.

Some asbestos products found in factories included:

  • Asbestos insulation
  • Asbestos cement pipes
  • Adhesives
  • Construction building materials (such as drywall)
  • Gaskets
  • Machinery parts
  • Raw asbestos fibers

Remember: Exposure to any of these products could cause factory workers to develop mesothelioma later in life.

Asbestos Related-Diseases in Factory Workers

Factory workers who were exposed to asbestos may go on to develop any number of asbestos-related diseases.

Asbestos-related diseases that affect factory workers include:

  • Asbestosis: This is a noncancerous lung disease in which the lungs get severely damaged due to asbestos. It can be fatal over time and there's no cure.
  • Lung cancer: Factory workers could develop lung cancer if they inhaled asbestos fibers into their lungs. The risks are greater among workers who smoked.
  • Pleural mesothelioma: This type of mesothelioma affects the lung lining (pleura) and the average survival time ranges from 12-21 months.
  • Peritoneal mesothelioma: In this type, the cancer forms in the abdominal lining (peritoneum). Patients can often live for several years with treatment.
  • Pericardial mesothelioma: This is a rare form of mesothelioma that affects the heart lining (pericardium). Most patients aren't diagnosed until after they pass away.

Symptoms of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases (like a cough or chest pain) don't show up until decades after exposure — 10-50 years, on average.

Asbestos Exposure
To Asbestos
Lungs SymptomsSymptoms Appear20-50 Years After Exposure

Because of this, it's important to see a doctor if you're feeling unwell, even if you were exposed to asbestos as a factory worker decades ago.

Compensation for Factory Workers With Mesothelioma

A woman looks over documents with an older manIf you worked in a factory and have since developed mesothelioma or another asbestos-related health condition, you may be able to seek compensation for medical bills and other costs.

Compensation options include:

  • Asbestos trust funds: Former asbestos manufacturers that filed for bankruptcy were forced to create trust funds if they wanted to stay in business. More than $30 billion is available in trusts today to help victims.
  • Mesothelioma lawsuits: These claims can be filed against makers of asbestos-based products that didn't set up trusts and are still in business. The average mesothelioma lawsuit awards $1 million or more.
  • VA benefits: Military veterans with mesothelioma can file for these benefits to get help from the VA. Mesothelioma VA benefits include monthly compensation worth nearly $4,000 in many cases, as well as medical care.

Our team can help you file for any of the types of compensation claims listed above. You can still file for VA benefits even if you also file a trust fund claim or asbestos lawsuit. Call (877) 450-8973 now to learn more.

Help for Factory Workers With Mesothelioma

Factory workers didn't deserve to be put in danger of mesothelioma. Asbestos companies should have phased out their products from factory work and other industries as soon as the risks were known.

While the past cannot be undone, the Mesothelioma Veterans Center is committed to helping civilians and veterans get all the help they need to fight this deadly cancer.

Our team can connect you with:

  • The best doctors and treatments
  • Mesothelioma VA benefits
  • Private compensation options

To see all the ways we can assist you and your family, get a Free Veterans Packet right now.

FAQs About Asbestos and Factory Workers

What asbestos disease did factory workers get?

Factory workers who were exposed to asbestos could go on to develop mesothelioma, which is cancer in the lining of major organs. The only known cause of this cancer is asbestos exposure.

They could also develop lung cancer, asbestosis, and other asbestos-related diseases, most of which put their lives at risk.

Is asbestos still used in factories?

Asbestos use is greatly restricted in factories and on other worksites today thanks to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

However, some older factories may still contain asbestos-based products or machinery. For example, plans to demolish a factory once owned by Nabisco were delayed in 2023 when workers found asbestos on the site.

If you believe that a factory you're working in is putting you at risk of exposure, note your concerns immediately.

Why are factory workers at risk of asbestos exposure?

Factory workers are at risk of asbestos exposure because this deadly substance was used throughout factories for decades and most people didn't know about the dangers it posed.

For example, many men in the town of Cloquet, Minnesota worked at a factory owned by the Conwed Corporation, which used asbestos to make mineral board and ceiling tile.

Conwed didn't warn the workers about the harm that asbestos caused. The rate of mesothelioma cases in Cloquet is 70 times higher than average as a result.

Veterans Support Team
Christopher Dryfoos PhotoWritten by:

Contributing Author

Christopher Dryfoos is a journalist and member of the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA). As the grandson of the U.S. Navy’s first forensic pathologist, he aims to help veterans with mesothelioma access needed care.

  1. Patch. "Nabisco Implosion Nixed After Asbestos Found In Fair Lawn Factory." Retrieved from: Accessed on March 11, 2024.
  2. Park Rapids Enterprise. "Minnesota factory workers feel aftermath of asbestos 36 years later." Retrieved from: Accessed on March 11, 2024.