Written By: Devin Golden

Asbestos Exposure for Bakers, Pizza Makers and Pastry Chefs

Asbestos has the ability to prevent fires. Many businesses relied on the mineral for decades as an insulant. Baking and cooking were no exception, meaning bakers and chefs could develop mesothelioma.

Retired LCDR Carl Jewett

Reviewed By

Retired LCDR Carl Jewett

VA-Accredited Claims Agent

Retired LCDR Carl Jewett

Reviewed By

Retired LCDR Carl Jewett

VA-Accredited Claims Agent


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Important Facts About Asbestos Exposure for Bakers, Pizza Makers and Pastry Chefs

  • Asbestos was used as a fireproofing and insulating agent in baking and pizza ovens since they get so hot. They were built with asbestos lining the inside of the ovens.
  • Exposure to asbestos is the only cause of mesothelioma, which is a rare and deadly type of cancer.
  • There are a handful of reported cases of mesothelioma among bakers and pastry chefs.

How Asbestos in Bakeries Causes Mesothelioma

Asbestos is a durable mineral capable of preserving different machinery parts, elements of buildings and more. It also was fire-resistant, which made it the perfect material to incorporate into industrial ovens, stoves and other heating elements.

The mineral is made up of tiny microscopic fibers sewn together. If the fibers splinter and break apart, they are weightless and will float in the air. Asbestos fibers are nearly invisible and can unknowingly be inhaled or swallowed.

If asbestos enters the body, the sharp fibers can lodge into cells along the linings of the lungs, abdomen and heart. The cells become irritated, causing mutation and the formation of mesothelioma tumors. 

Mesothelioma is a rare disease affecting approximately 3,000 Americans each year. This cancer is often linked to occupational asbestos exposure, meaning people who worked in specific trades (such as construction or insulation jobs) were more susceptible to exposure. Veterans of the U.S. military, or spouses and children exposed in a second-hand manner are also at risk.

Asbestos unfortunately was present in bakeries due to the hot temperatures of baking ovens.

History of Asbestos and Mesothelioma

For most of the 20th century, the general public didn’t know anything about the dangers of asbestos or mesothelioma. However, many asbestos manufacturers and companies using the material did know the risks but continued on anyway.

Asbestos was relied on in many American commercial industries for most of the 20th century. In the 1970s, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration revealed how dangerous asbestos was. Later, the agency implemented restrictions on the use of the mineral in commercial trades.

The U.S. government has since limited the use of asbestos, even enacting a ban of chrysotile asbestos in 2024. The ban only applies to one type of asbestos, but it’s the most common type and the one most often linked to mesothelioma cancer cases. The other five types are regulated with companies required to report uses to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Despite the ban and other regulations, the hazardous material remains prevalent in America as a legacy ingredient in old houses, office buildings and restaurants.

Bakers and pastry chefs aren’t often considered when thinking of at risk occupations for asbestos exposure and mesothelioma. However, anyone who worked as a baker or chef likely was at risk of exposure to the mineral.

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How Bakers, Pizza Makers and Pastry Chefs Were Exposed to Asbestos

Asbestos was used as a fireproof lining since baking ovens often reach extremely high temperatures. By doing so, the mineral kept the flames within the oven and prevented heat damage to any parts.

Any person who worked near or with or repaired the ovens would have been exposed to asbestos in bakeries. Additionally, fibers sometimes fell into the bread while it was baking. Anyone who sold and bought the baked product also may have been exposed to asbestos.

Asbestos is often found in older baking ovens. This is considered “legacy asbestos,” or any asbestos still existing from its original installation in the 20th century. Most asbestos exposure happening today is due to legacy asbestos. Pastry cooks, bakers, and pizza chefs are at risk of legacy asbestos exposure since any baking ovens from the 1980s or earlier may contain asbestos as a fireproofing agent.

Statistics on Bakers, Pastry Chefs, Pizza Chefs and Mesothelioma

Since asbestos exposure is possible for bakers, pastry cooks, and pizza makers, the development of mesothelioma cancer is also a risk. There are just 2,500-3,000 cases of mesothelioma diagnosed in the U.S. each year. The majority of them are associated with asbestos exposure through a person’s occupation or job, such as construction or electrical work. Because of the asbestos insulation that lined the ovens, pastry cooking, baking, and pizza making are occupations at risk for mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.

According to a report in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, there are at least eight known cases of malignant pleural mesothelioma among bakers, pastry chefs and “biscuit cooks.” All of the cases involved a history of “engaged in making, baking/cooking, and selling pastry/bread.”

If you have mesothelioma and worked as a baker, pizza chef or pastry chef — or even sold a bread product — then your profession may have caused your disease. The people who manufactured and sold asbestos products and materials knew the substance was dangerous. Despite this, they prioritized profits and continued producing the mineral as an insulant for baking ovens.

These companies are liable for your mesothelioma cancer – and the possibility of your life being cut short due to their greed. If you’re the loved one of a former baker or pastry chef who has mesothelioma or died of the cancer, you are also entitled to compensation. Our team can explain how you may qualify to file a mesothelioma lawsuit and get financial help from the court system.

If you’d like to speak with a medical expert about the link between baking and pizza ovens and mesothelioma, email either of our patient advocates — Karen Ritter, RN (karen@mesotheliomaguide.com) or Carl Jewett (cjewett@mesotheliomaguide.com) — to get more information.

Sources & Author

  1. Malignant pleural mesothelioma in bakers and pastry cooks. American Journal of Industrial Medicine. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11598986. Accessed: 10/08/19.
Devin Golden

About the Writer, Devin Golden

Devin Golden is a content writer for Mesothelioma Guide. He produces mesothelioma-related content on various mediums, including the Mesothelioma Guide website and social media channels. Devin's objective is to translate complex information regarding mesothelioma into informative, easily absorbable content to help patients and their loved ones.