Asbestos was widely used for several decades in many industries, including the energy industry. Asbestos is heatproof and versatile. It was commonly used as an insulator. Many tools, machines, or machine parts in power plants and oil refineries were either made with asbestos or insulated with asbestos.
Some specific job positions required more contact with asbestos and asbestos products. However, any energy worker could have come in contact with asbestos in the air, in the building materials, or in tools used to do their jobs.
Some energy workers at risk include:
- Power plant workers
- Turbine installers
- Turbine mechanics
- Insulation workers
- Oil refinery workers
Another group at risk is loved ones of energy workers. Some mesothelioma cases are caused by secondhand exposure. Workers sometimes brought asbestos home with them on their clothes and hair. Some loved ones have been exposed by hugging workers or doing their laundry.
Oil refineries are constantly working. They are open 24 hours a day, every day of the year. It takes a lot of employees to keep oil refineries working. Oil refineries are also somewhat dangerous to work in. The process to refine crude oil requires high heat. In the past, asbestos was commonly used in oil refineries to insulate and protect workers from the dangerous temperatures.
Some oil refinery tools made or insulated with asbestos:
- Heat exchangers
- Distillation columns
- Protective Clothing/Gear
Oil refinery workers and oil rig workers are at risk of developing asbestos-related diseases, like mesothelioma. Any oil refinery worker could have been exposed to asbestos. Workers had more asbestos exposure if they used asbestos tools and machinery regularly. Repair work was also a dangerous source of asbestos exposure because workers may need to disturb asbestos products during repairs.
Most power plants convert heat energy into electrical energy. Since power plants generate a lot of heat, in the past they used asbestos as heat-proofing and insulation for machinery. Power plant workers who worked with asbestos products were put at risk of developing mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. Many products in power plants were either made with asbestos or insulated with asbestos.
Some asbestos products found in power plants:
- Steam pipe insulation
- Turbine insulation
- Raw asbestos
- Hot tops
One of the main uses for asbestos in power plants was to insulate turbines and steam pipes. A major health hazard to workers is the heat generated by turbines and steam pipes. By insulating these parts with asbestos, the process was supposed to become safer. Instead, power companies put their workers at risk of developing asbestos-related diseases.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that has been used for thousands of years. Asbestos exposure is the only known cause of mesothelioma. Most commonly, mesothelioma affects people who worked in industries like construction or manufacturing, …
Some power plants even stored and used raw asbestos to spray onto machinery. Workers who sprayed asbestos or had to work in the asbestos storerooms had a high amount of asbestos exposure. Workers who operated and maintained asbestos-insulated machinery were also exposed to asbestos regularly.