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Ironworkers Asbestos Exposure

Why are Foundries One of The Most Asbestos Contaminated Workplaces?

Legally Edited by: Ethan A. Flint Attorney & Flint Law Firm Partner

Last modified: FEBRUARY 12, 2021
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Foundries have high-heat application equipment like smelters, furnaces, and boilers that used Asbestos insulation. The insulation protects workers from burning themselves, holds heat in the systems, and makes them more efficient. The period when Asbestos was used was from the 1930s until 1975. Every Foundry built before 1980 has significant Asbestos in the work environment, and every Foundry Worker almost without exception is entitled to financial compensation.

Asbestos Insulated Furnaces Reach Several Thousand Degrees

Foundries are one of the most Asbestos contaminated places to work in the United States. The blast furnaces in a foundry are used to build up enough heat to melt steel, iron, wrought iron, aluminum, copper, and alloys. They are lined with refractory materials--bricks and mortar with Asbestos insulation mixed into them in the blast furnace walls.

The purpose of the Asbestos in the masonry materials is to ensure that they don't ignite from the high heat or degrade over time. It also makes them significantly more resilient.

Foundry workers are exposed to Asbestos that lines and surrounds the furnaces when the refractory bricks and mortar have to be repaired or replaced. The bricks have to be chiseled out by hand, creating a cloud of Asbestos dust.

Any worker in the same area breathes and swallows the dust, which causes Mesothelioma and other cancers up to 12-70 years later. The refractory products' manufacturers pay millions of dollars to Foundry Workers every year through the Asbestos Trust Funds.

Molding and Pouring Molten Metal

Another way Foundry Workers were exposed to Asbestos is by molding and pouring molten metals. When pouring molten metal into a mold or form, you want to cool that metal evenly. If the cooling process is uneven, the metal develops structural cracks. In some cases, depending on how quickly it cools down, it can explode or be unusable to allow the heat to dissipate at an even rate.

Foundry workers would throw asbestos-containing materials (called hot tops) and sand on top of the molten metal. Hot tops allow heat to be more evenly distributed.

Foundry Workers would also manage the heat from molten pours by placing their forms on top of the sand and Asbestos-containing boards. If you pour molten metal onto a regular work floor, and that floor contains some other non-heat resistant component, it will burn, melt or fail.

The Asbestos boards they used were called Ferro boards, and they would be cut to size and lined up underneath the forms. The Asbestos boards also gave a more uniform bottom, which is more precise and needed less shaping or grinding.

The makers of the hot tops, hot mix, and Asbestos boards have compensated thousands of Foundry workers. Let Flint Law Firm help you get your compensation for molding and pouring work.

Not only were Foundry Workers around Asbestos-containing equipment and products, but they would also use Asbestos personal protective equipment (PPE). The Asbestos-containing PPE included blankets, shields, gloves, and full bodysuits. All of these products had Asbestos woven into the fabric of the PPE.

Over time with even normal usage, the materials would bend, break, degrade, and asbestos fibers would shed into the air. These pieces of Asbestos that break off would then end up in workers' lungs and throats and cause cancer.

Exposure to Asbestos From the Building and Other Workers

Foundry Workers are exposed to Asbestos by their equipment, tools of the trade, safety PPE, and finally to the general environment of the Foundry itself. In any complicated production site, you have multiple types of workers in the same area.

Each job involved working with Asbestos in some form, and there was cross-contamination of each trade on the other workers. Also, the Foundry facility would have its source of heating (boilers) and power generation, which would require miles of exposed Asbestos insulated piping. Any Foundry built before 1975 will contain several lifetimes worth of Asbestos that is a hazard even today.


Job Sites With Asbestos Exposure


How do Our Lawyers help Foundry Workers with Mesothelioma Cancer?

Our Mesothelioma lawyers can help any Foundry Worker diagnosed with Mesothelioma or Asbestos lung cancer. We know your profession, we know the products you used, and who made them.

Our Mesothelioma attorneys will be able to get you monetary compensation from existing companies and bankrupt companies. Flint Law Firm will ensure you have received every benefit from every claim possible.

The Real Story of James Thurgood - Foundry Worker

Privacy notice: Any mention of a client's name has either been expressly approved by our client (and their family) or is changed to protect the family's privacy.

James lives about 20 miles from one of our offices in Southern Illinois. I had received a phone call from a Baptist Lay minister who said that one of his congregants had been diagnosed with lung cancer, and he worked at Granite City Steel Mill. The minister had James give us a call, and he told us of his long career as the first African-American employee at the steel mill.

He had worked in manufacturing for Wagner Brake in St. Louis. Still, He was having trouble making ends meet on his salary to support his wife and two children. A friend offered him the spot but warned him it was a dirty and challenging job, but it paid well if you were willing to take overtime. James started as a molder, making the sand molds from molten steel and assisted in the pour and the cooling-off process, so the ingot did not crack.

This job involved the application of intense heat from blast furnaces and molten metal. Granite City Steel, like Steel Millis throughout the county, used Asbestos as an insulator. James' job involved working with Asbestos every day, and he was forced to breathe Asbestos fibers that became trapped in his lungs. Because of his hard work, James was given a promotion to pipefitter, which involved the maintenance of miles of steam piping, valves, and boilers in the entire complex. He was exposed to Asbestos-containing insulation, packing, and gasket materials in this job, which caused him to breathe even more Asbestos.

Decades later, he was diagnosed with Asbestos lung cancer. His doctors were able to diagnose by biopsy and a high-resolution CT scan of his lungs. James had smoked, but his doctors determined that smoking and the Asbestos worked together in a "synergistic effect" to cause cancer.

Our firm won his case and recovered enough funds for James to pay for his medical treatment and take care of his family. James recovered well from his surgery to remove his right lung. Later he would be a witness in cases for his coworkers from the steel mill, who later developed Mesotheliomas and Asbestos lung cancers.

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Mesothelioma Compensation For Recently Diagnosed Patients I Was Diagnosed

Asbestos Exposure in Foundries FAQs

Do Face Masks Protect Foundry Workers From Asbestos?

It depends. Positive pressure full-face masks work well.  However, respirators and dust masks only protect a Foundry Worker if it was manufactured after 1998--when OSHA forced the respiratory protection companies to redesign their products. Any facemask made before 1998 cannot prevent a worker in a Foundry environment from breathing or swallowing large amounts of asbestos dust.

How Long Do I Have To Have Worked In A Foundry To Get Mesothelioma Or Lung Cancer?

Mesothelioma is a low dose disease, so you don't have to be exposed to very much of it to cause cancer decades later. There's no safe exposure level to Asbestos dust. Most of our Foundry Worker clients did work at their jobs for over a decade. However, we also have clients who just worked at a Foundry as a summer job in high school or college. These "part-timers" were also diagnosed with Mesothelioma or Asbestos Lung Cancer much later in life. If you have questions about your exposure to Asbestos, give us a call, and our lawyers will help you figure it out.

How Do I Know If My Foundry Contained Asbestos?

At this point, Asbestos litigation has been going on for more than 40 years.  Every known Foundry in the United States (open or closed) has been investigated, and claims filed based on Mesothelioma and Asbestos Lung Cancer. Flint Law Firm has access to the depositions and discovery from all of these past cases. We have very likely already won claims for some of your coworkers. If you tell us where you worked, we will confirm if it is a known Asbestos exposure site.

Adrianne Andrus

Reviewed by:  Adrienne Andrus
Chief Editor of Flint law Firm LLC
Client Advocate & Product Liability Paralegal since 2015.
Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communication, SIU Edwardsville

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