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Asbestos exposure a safety risk for jewelers

Though asbestos use has been limited over the past few decades, it can still be found in various industries. Louisville residents should know that one of those industries is the jewelry industry. The first jewelry-related mesothelioma case was reported on back in 1992 by the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, so the issue has been known for a while.

The case involved a 61-year-old man who had been a jeweler for 35 years. He was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma, or cancer of the thin lining separating the lung cavity and chest wall. The cancer spread to one of the man's lungs, so he underwent a pneumonectomy, or removal of an infected lung.

In his case, as in many others, loose asbestos fibers were inhaled or ingested during the soldering process. Jewelers will use a clay-like mixture of asbestos and water to hold two metal pieces together when soldering them. While some forms of asbestos are less dangerous than others, those who are exposed to the "safe" forms can nonetheless develop mesothelioma.

While the American Journal of Industrial Medicine has called for asbestos soldering forms to be replaced, the fact is that generations of jewelers have already been exposed to the mineral. Mesothelioma takes up to 50 years to develop, so cases of it will likely appear in the future.

When mesothelioma can be traced back to workplace conditions, injured workers can file a personal injury claim or workers' compensation claim. This is the point where they may want to get legal counsel. With a lawyer, they may be able to prove that their employer knew about the danger of asbestos exposure yet did nothing about it. Third-party investigators might come in to gather all the needed proof before the lawyer goes on to negotiate a settlement.

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