Bakers and Mesothelioma Exposure
Those exposed to deadly asbestos fibers at work often have one thing in common – they worked around high heat. That could be in a ship’s boiler room, an oil refinery, or a bakery. Commercial ovens used asbestos insulation to control the workplace’s temperatures better and as fireproofing.
Asbestos fibers were often inhaled (and sometimes eaten in contaminated baked goods), swallowed, and for some, they later caused mesothelioma, an aggressive and deadly type of cancer. If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma, lung cancer, or asbestosis, you may be entitled to compensation for what you’ve suffered.
What Do Bakers Do?
If you make a living baking, you probably do so in a commercial or retail setting.
- Commercial bakers work in manufacturing facilities producing pastries and bread on a large scale. High-volume ovens, mixing machines, and other equipment help create standardized baked goods for a variety of customers
- Retail bakers typically work in specialty shops, grocery stores, and restaurants. They produce smaller quantities of goods for customers and shoppers
Ovens used by both could heat up to several hundred degrees and produce goods for many hours without being shut off.
How Would Bakers Be Exposed to Asbestos?
Asbestos is a strong, heat- and fire-resistant mineral used for oven insulation and protective gear for bakery staff. Asbestos insulation lined some ovens as fireproofing.
Workers could be exposed during the entire shift, day after day. As the asbestos products wore out and degraded, fibers were released into the air. When the insulation or the ovens needed repairs, the insulation may have been torn out and replaced, putting more asbestos into the air. Airborne fibers from oven insulation also made their way into baked goods.
How Harmful is Mesothelioma?
When inhaled, asbestos fibers often make their way into the lungs. Some will get into the pleura, a membrane covering the lungs and chest cavity. Fibers may also be swallowed directly from the air or after they’re coughed up. Asbestos fiber can reach the peritoneum, another membrane lining organs, and the abdomen.
The body’s immune system tries to destroy foreign substances in the body. Immune cells can’t dissolve asbestos fibers, so they die trying, spill out enzymes, and harm nearby tissue. Asbestos fibers can stay in the body indefinitely.
Severe difficulty breathing (asbestosis) can happen if there are enough fibers in the lungs, scarring, and inflammation. Asbestos also can cause genetic changes in lung cells, which eventually leads to lung cancer.
Asbestos fibers in the pleura and pericardium can, over decades, result in pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma. If asbestos fibers are in the tissue lining the heart, it can cause pericardial mesothelioma. While treatment may extend life, it’s not a cure for pleural or pericardial mesothelioma.
Pleural mesothelioma symptoms may include:
- Painful coughing
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Tissue lumps beneath the skin on your chest
- Unexplained weight loss
The American Cancer Society estimates that about 20 percent of those with mesothelioma found in one place in the body will survive five years after diagnosis. That drops to eight percent if the disease spreads.
Those with peritoneal mesothelioma often won’t feel symptoms until abdominal organs are affected. Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include:
- Fluid builds up in your abdomen (ascites)
- Abdominal swelling
- General abdominal pain, or it may be localized
- A painful pelvic area mass
- Bowel blockage
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fevers and night sweats
- Unexpected weight loss
- Appetite loss
A 2013 article in the European Journal of Cancer states that a study of 108 patients treated for peritoneal mesothelioma found that the cure rate (survival of seven or more years after treatment) was 43.6%.
What Mesothelioma Dangers Did Bakers Face?
A 2001 study from the American Journal of Industrial Medicine showed malignant pleural mesothelioma cases in bakers and pastry cooks in Italy. They found eight mesothelioma patients treated at two hospitals from 1990 to 1997 within a group of 222 workers. They baked or cooked biscuits, pastries, and bread. Researchers found asbestos-containing fireproofing in bread-baking ovens built before 1980.
About 3,000 Americans are diagnosed annually with mesothelioma, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Given the country’s population of about 327 million people, that’s about 0.0009 percent of the population. The eight mesothelioma patients are about 3.6 percent of the group of bakers in the study.
Call Us Today For A Free Consultation
If you or a loved worked in bakeries and have mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, Satterley & Kelley lawyers give you answers to your questions, advise you of your rights to compensation, and protect your legal rights. You can reach our Louisville office by calling 502-589-5600 or toll-free at 800-655-2117. You can also fill out our contact form to schedule a free initial consultation.