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Are Chlorine Plant Workers at Risk of Developing Mesothelioma?

Philadelphia Mesothelioma Attorneys at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler Represent Chlorine Plant Workers Who Have Asbestos Diseases

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was once widely used in consumer products for its strength and ability to resist heat, corrosion, and electricity. A fibrous silicate mineral found in large deposits in the earth, asbestos produces long, thin, crystalline fibers that when processed, break and become airborne. When inhaled, asbestos is extremely dangerous, as the fibers remain in the body and continue to accumulate for decades, leading to aggressive forms of cancer, most notably, mesothelioma.

The mining of asbestos is banned in the United States, but importing the dangerous mineral is not. Chlorine manufacturers continue to use it in chemical plants, importing more than 200,000 pounds per year. Eight chlorine manufacturing plants currently in operation continue to use asbestos, two of the largest being Olin and OxyChem, which both have plants in multiple states.

Asbestos is not required to produce chlorine, however, the substance is utilized in chlorine manufacturing due to its ability to resist chemical corrosion and electricity. Once produced, chlorine is stored in large tanks containing metal screen diaphragms coated in a protective layer of asbestos to prevent corrosion and to separate gasses.

During the chlorine manufacturing process, electrical current is administered through liquid chlorine and the asbestos barrier separates the positive and negatively charged gasses into two different compartments. When the barrier begins to wear off, workers remove the remaining asbestos with pressure washers, which splatters asbestos fibers, and put on a new asbestos coating.

ProPublica reports that conditions in Olin and OxyChem facilities put workers at risk of occupational asbestos exposure and their families at risk of secondary exposure due to asbestos on workers’ clothing and hair. In several facilities, asbestos dust was found caked on overhead beams and machinery, escaping through open windows, and tracked on floors and in carpets. Such significant amounts of asbestos dust were found in one break room that it required closing permanently.

Asbestos fibers are invisible to the human eye. Any amount of asbestos exposure is dangerous, as the fibers are inhaled and can remain in the body for a lifetime, potentially developing into a deadly cancer. Without a comprehensive ban on asbestos use in the United States, chemical plant workers continue to be at significant exposure risk.

What Is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is an extremely aggressive cancer. Inhaled or ingested asbestos fibers settle deep into the body’s tissues and cause cell damage, scarring, and inflammation as it accumulates. Each time a person is exposed to asbestos the risk of developing cancer increases.

There are different types of mesothelioma, distinguished by which part of the body is affected. Symptoms vary, depending on the type of mesothelioma, but commonly include:

  • Pleural mesothelioma:
    • Unusual subdural lumps in the chest.
    • Chest pain and a burning, painful coughing.
    • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.
    • Unintentional or unexplained weight loss.
  • Pericardial mesothelioma:
    • Difficulty breathing.
    • Chest pain or burning.
  • Peritoneal mesothelioma:
    • Abdominal pain or swelling.
    • Nausea or vomiting.
    • Unintentional or unexplained weight loss.

Mesothelioma is incurable, but early treatment can prolong life expectancy. Chlorine plant workers are also at risk of developing other cancers, including colorectal, stomach, and larynx.

Philadelphia Mesothelioma Attorneys at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler Represent Chlorine Plant Workers Who Have Asbestos Diseases

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, our experienced Philadelphia mesothelioma attorneys at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler are available for help. Call us at 215-569-4000 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including Delaware County, Chester County, and Philadelphia County.