Law Office of Michael R. De La Paz

How much risk of mesothelomia do oil refinery workers face?

As a Texas oil refinery worker, no one need tell you that the oil and gas industry is big business in our state. What may shock you to learn, however, is that, as reported by the Mesothelioma Veterans Organization, you face a grave danger of developing mesothelioma, an incurable cancer, due to the asbestos particles you likely inhale on a daily basis

Today, over 1.4 million people work in the oil industry. By far the largest number of refinery workers perform numerous jobs in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, California and Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, whatever your job, from laborer to executive, you risk asbestos exposure. Why? Because asbestos is not only an excellent insulating material, it also is an excellent fire and flame retardant. Consequently, many pipes and pieces of equipment found in oil refineries contain this highly dangerous substance. Despite the fact that over 40 countries ban the use of asbestos, the U.S. still allows it, albeit in limited quantities. Nevertheless, no scientific or research center has ever established a safe level of asbestos inhalation.

Asbestos-containing products

Your refinery is full of products and materials that contain asbestos, including the following:

  • Thermal insulation: pipelines, heat exchangers, furnaces, pumps, driers, boilers, ovens, tanks, etc.
  • Equipment and supplies: drilling, cutting and sanding equipment, gaskets, sealants, etc.
  • Construction products: welding equipment and supplies, ceiling, flooring, wall and roofing components, duct tape, etc.
  • Protective equipment: fire-retardant clothing and gloves

Asbestos inhalation

Asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral, but unlike most minerals, it breaks down into microscopic fibers, not simple dust. The invisible fibers disperse throughout the surrounding air, and even protective masks cannot prevent your inhaling them. Once in your lungs, they build up over time, ultimately likely resulting in mesothelomia. The build-up is so slow, however, that few workers receive a mesothelomia diagnosis until years or even decades after their initial asbestos exposure.

While this educational information is not legal advice, it can help you understand the mesothelomia risk you face as an oil refinery worker.

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