Many plumbers have been exposed to asbestos products in the past, putting them at risk of asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma today. Thankfully, plumbers who develop mesothelioma can get medical care, financial aid, and military benefits if they served. Learn why plumbers were put at risk and how our team can help below.
Plumbers and Asbestos Exposure
Plumbers are responsible for the installation and repair of pipes that carry water and liquids through buildings. Unfortunately, this work put plumbers at risk of asbestos exposure and mesothelioma.
Between the 1930s and early 1980s, plumbers worked with and around many asbestos-based products like cement, piping, and joint compound.
The risks of asbestos weren't fully known by the general public or major entities like the U.S. military. Makers of asbestos products did know the dangers but concealed them to keep their profit margins high.
Plumbers were exposed to asbestos by:
- Fixing older pipes: Many older pipes and other products contained asbestos. Removing the pipes could put the plumber at risk of asbestos exposure.
- Installing new appliances that contain asbestos: Some examples include dishwashers, laundry machines, and garbage disposals.
- Replacing pipe insulation and block insulation: Both types of insulation contained asbestos prior to the early 1980s.
Working in enclosed spaces: Plumbers often worked in tiny rooms and spaces, meaning there was nowhere for asbestos dust to go and that it could easily be inhaled.
Thankfully, both U.S. veterans and civilians who served as plumbers and now suffer from mesothelioma can get medical and financial help. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) also offers additional benefits to veterans with mesothelioma.
Get started now with a Free Veterans Packet.
Products That Exposed Plumbers to Asbestos
Before the risks were known, many plumbers were exposed to asbestos on a daily basis.
High-risk asbestos plumbing products included:
- Asbestos insulation: Plumbers use insulation to wrap pipes and control temperatures. Plumbers also work with boilers, ducts, tanks, and pipes that relied on asbestos-containing insulation.
- Construction materials: Asbestos cement, drywall, and other building materials that plumbers work with or around may contain asbestos.
- Other materials: Plumbers may have used welding rods, pipe coating, gaskets, valves, pipe blocks, cement pipes, and joint compounds that were made with asbestos.
Older piping and other household materials may still contain asbestos even today. This puts plumbers at risk of inhaling asbestos dust and getting sick if proper precautions aren't taken.
How Asbestos Exposure Leads to Mesothelioma in Plumbers
Plumbers (and anyone else exposed to asbestos) can develop mesothelioma 10-50 years after being exposed.
When asbestos fibers are ingested or inhaled, they tend to stick inside the body and cause damage. This can eventually trigger mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases like lung cancer and asbestosis.
In a 2022 study published by BMJ Case Reports, a former plumber was suffering from pleural mesothelioma (which forms in the lung lining). By the time he was diagnosed, the cancer had spread to his brain. He successfully received brain surgery after his diagnosis.
If you or a loved one was a plumber and are experiencing symptoms of mesothelioma like chest pain or difficulty breathing, consult a doctor. Prompt diagnosis and treatment are crucial to living longer with this cancer.
Get help finding top mesothelioma doctors: Call (877) 450-8973 right now.
How Great Were the Risks of Asbestos Exposure in Plumbers?
While even being exposed to asbestos just once can cause mesothelioma later in life, plumbers are especially in danger since they might have worked around this dangerous substance every day for months or years on end.
The American Cancer Society lists plumbers among workers who are in great danger of mesothelioma today due to occupational asbestos exposure.
Further, the amount of asbestos exposure among plumbers working in industrial areas was measured in a study using personal passive samplers by the Health and Safety Laboratory.
Roughly 62% of workers were exposed to asbestos to a significant degree in the first round of the study, and 58% of workers were exposed to asbestos in the second round of the study.
Working with asbestos also put plumbers' families at risk of exposure. If plumbers came home covered in asbestos fibers, their loved ones could have been exposed. This is known as secondhand exposure and each year, spouses and children develop mesothelioma because of it.
Resources for Plumbers With Mesothelioma
If you have mesothelioma and once served as a plumber, you're not alone and there are financial and medical options available to help you.
The risks of asbestos exposure are now well-known, but this wasn’t always the case. Funds have been made available to help people who have suffered as a result of asbestos exposure.
Key resources include:
- VA benefits: Plumbers that served in the U.S. military are entitled to many mesothelioma VA benefits. This includes monthly financial payouts worth more than $4,000 and low-cost or free treatments from top mesothelioma doctors. Our team can help you file a VA benefits claim now.
- Asbestos trust fund claims: Many makers of asbestos-based products filed for bankruptcy, but were forced to put money into trusts to help those with mesothelioma. There is more than $30 billion in these trusts right now.
- Private claims: You may be able to file a private claim or mesothelioma lawsuit against makers of asbestos-containing products that didn't establish trusts. For example, a plumber who also served in the U.S. Air Force received $8.2 million by filing a claim after a mesothelioma diagnosis. You can still file for VA benefits if you file a private claim.
Learn about all the benefits that are available to plumbers with mesothelioma like you in our Free Veterans Packet.
Help for Mesothelioma and Plumbers
No plumber ever deserved to get mesothelioma or other deadly asbestos-related diseases from simply doing their job. Sadly, makers of asbestos-containing products put plumbers and millions of others at risk for over 50 years. They knew the risks but said nothing.
The Mesothelioma Veterans Center is proud to help both veteran and civilian plumbers fighting this cancer get benefits and financial aid.
Learn about all the ways we can assist you and your family: contact us now.
FAQs About Asbestos and Plumbers
Are plumbers exposed to asbestos?
Yes. Prior to the early 1980s, many plumbers encountered asbestos-containing pipes, insulation, joint compound, and other substances on a daily basis.
This asbestos exposure put plumbers who served decades ago at risk of mesothelioma — a life-threatening cancer caused by asbestos — in the present day.
Are plumbers at risk of cancer?
Yes. Plumbers that served between the 1930s and early 1980s are at risk of cancers like mesothelioma and lung cancer since they worked with or around asbestos-containing products.
Asbestos is a known carcinogen (cancer-causing substance), so anyone exposed could go on to develop cancer.
Do all plumbers who worked with asbestos get mesothelioma?
No. There are many possible illnesses that plumbers could develop after being exposed to asbestos.
Some may develop mesothelioma, while others could get lung cancer, asbestosis (which isn't cancerous, but rather a deadly lung disease), or pleural plaques (which are harmless, chalky growths on the lung lining).
Other plumbers may never get any asbestos-related illness.