Boilers heat water to the point where it is changed into steam. They are used in many applications, from residential heating to ship propulsion. Boilers can be very simple in design or quite complex. Because boilers operate at very high temperatures, exposed surfaces need to be insulated to retain heat and to prevent injury. There were several boiler houses at Bethlehem Steel in Lackawanna, New York. Steam produced in these boilers was used during the steel making process and for generating power throughout the plant. Prior to the late 1970s, the boilers were insulated with asbestos-containing pipe covering, block insulation and insulating cement. Exposure to asbestos can cause mesothelioma and lung cancer.
Asbestos insulation covered parts of the boilers and the associated piping, valves and pumps inside the boiler houses. Asbestos-containing pipe covering was typically manufactured in three-foot lengths. Simply handling pipe covering emitted asbestos fibers into the air. Workers used a saw to cut to the pipe covering to a desired length, which also produced asbestos-containing dust. Even those who worked in the vicinity of those who applied and maintained asbestos-containing pipe covering inhaled the dust. At times, insulating cement was used to cover pipe elbows. Asbestos-containing cement was manufactured as a dry powder, and it was mixed with water to form a paste-like substance prior to its application. Pouring and mixing the insulating cement caused asbestos-containing fibers and dust to become airborne.
Block insulation that contained asbestos was used to insulate the boiler itself. Similar to pipe covering, handling and cutting block insulation caused asbestos fibers to become airborne. The airborne dust created by the application of these asbestos products traveled long distances. Not only workers who applied these products are at risk for developing an asbestos-related disease such as mesothelioma, but those who also worked in the vicinity are also at risk.
In the process of representing workers and their families, we have gathered a vast amount of information concerning the type and variety of asbestos-containing products to which our clients were exposed. Our clients understand the importance of securing legal representation as soon as possible after a diagnosis of mesothelioma or lung cancer. If you or a loved one were once employed at Bethlehem Steel in Lackawanna, NY and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, please contact us for a free case evaluation.