Manufacturing plants and mills were frequent settings of asbestos exposure. Millions of workers were put in danger of this toxin, which hid in silence on surfaces, products and equipment.
Many manufacturing jobs involved regular exposure, and textile workers were at the top of the list.
A study conducted by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) spelled out the asbestos risk for textile workers. The data showed the rates of mesothelioma for these workers.
What Do Textile Workers Do and How Is Asbestos Involved?
Mesothelioma is a cancer with one proven cause: asbestos exposure. Unfortunately, asbestos was a major ingredient of many aspects of the 20th-century American economy. During the middle of the century, when industrial and commercial production skyrocketed, asbestos was at the forefront of the boom.
Textile manufacturing was one such industry. Textile workers turn natural and artificial fibers into yarn, which is then used to create clothing, household products and other industrial goods. The textile process involves combing and spinning fibers, weaving, knitting and bonding yards, and dyeing fabrics.
A lot of the goods and products produced in textile mills were made with asbestos. The substance’s presence, and the requirement for textile workers to handle these items, led to the exposure. Asbestos is a sensitive mineral, and the slightest touch or disturbance could cause fibers with razor-sharp edges to be inhaled or swallowed.
Incidence Rate of Mesothelioma Among Textile Workers
According to the United States Department of Labor, there were around 585,000 textile workers in 2019. The country’s textile and apparel shipments totaled $75.8 billion.
In 2019, and many of the years before, asbestos was no longer a significant concern for textile workers. Along with others, this industry distanced itself from asbestos due to the growing health concerns that emerged in the 1980s.
However, any textile work from the 1970s and earlier is still relevant today.
The NIOSH study covered through 1975. It included 2,722 men and 554 women who held textile manufacturing jobs. Among them, 17 died of mesothelioma. It’s unknown if more people developed mesothelioma and survived, although the disease spreads quickly and long-term survival is low.
The rate of 0.5% is much higher than the incidence of mesothelioma among all types of workers.
Examining the rate on a per-100,000 basis is telling. It’s around 16% per 100,000 textile workers. Meanwhile, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the overall rate of mesothelioma per 100,000 people is approximately 1%.
Another study published in Cancer Medicine found 108 mesothelioma deaths among asbestos textile workers, further proving the danger’s existence.
Mesothelioma doesn’t start spreading aggressively until decades after exposure. Sometimes the disease takes up to 50 years before it reveals itself. Textile workers from the 1970s may learn they have mesothelioma in 2020. If you worked in a textile manufacturing plant and have mesothelioma, contact our medical team. Email our patient advocate and registered nurse Karen Ritter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sources & Author
- Asbestos Textile, Friction, and Packing Plant Workers (Asbestos). National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/pgms/worknotify/asbestos.html. Accessed: 11/05/2020.
- Updated mortality study of a cohort of asbestos textile workers. Cancer Medicine. Retrieved from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/cam4.824. Accessed: 11/05/2020.
- U.S. Textile Industry. National Council of Textile Organizations. Retrieved from: http://www.ncto.org/facts-figures/us-textile-industry/. Accessed: 11/05/2020.
Sources & Author