Electricians play an extremely important role in everyone’s lives, but at the same time, they also run the risk of asbestos exposure, especially when working in older homes and buildings.
Electricians and Occupational Exposure to Asbestos
As part of their career, electricians may work with a number wires, cables, electrical systems, turbines, hot water tanks, heating units, and more. When working on these products in the older homes and buildings, especially those built prior to the early 1980s, there is a chance that electricians will come into contact with asbestos.
In the late 1970s, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) placed strict regulations on the use asbestos. By the early 1980s, most builders began phasing out asbestos when constructing homes and buildings. Prior to that time, however, asbestos was used heavily as insulation and for its ability to withstand heat and fire. Many of the older structures built with asbestos-containing products and materials are still in use today.
In addition to cutting and removing wires, electricians can also face asbestos exposure when drilling into walls to install new wires. Along with asbestos-coated wiring, many older homes and buildings contain asbestos within the walls as well, placing electricians at a heightened risk of ingesting dangerous, airborne asbestos fibers. When asbestos is disturbed, such as when drilling into walls or cutting cables, electricians can inhale the tiny, odorless fibers unbeknownst to them.
Study on Electricians and Asbestos
Numerous studies have been conducted on asbestos hazards and electricians, including a 2008 study in Italy, in which more than 100 electricians participated in an occupational research project on asbestos.
According to research, the electricians who participated in the study had a high content of mesothelin-related peptides (SMRPs) in their system. SMRPs are substances that appear in the body and indicate a high risk of developing mesothelioma. Mesothelioma, a life-threatening cancer, is primarily caused by asbestos exposure.
In addition, the electricians who participated in the study had an extremely high level of angiogenic factors, which are biological signals that indicate that dormant, cancerous tumors are starting to form into malignant tumors.
How Electricians Can Protect Themselves from Asbestos
In the past, many electricians failed to protect themselves properly from asbestos, primarily because they weren’t given adequate warnings or the opportunity to learn just how dangerous asbestos fibers are to human health. However, current electricians can help protect themselves by wearing property safety gear and understanding where asbestos may be hiding.
The most common areas and products that contains asbestos in homes and buildings include:
- Ceiling tiles
- Insulation in water pipes
- HVAC insulation
- Thermal paper
- Electrical cloth
- Circuit breakers
- Attic insulation
- Wire insulation
- Underground wiring cement
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) created a list of precautions workers should take when working around asbestos, which include wearing protective gear such as:
- Rubber boots
- Disposable work glove
- Protective coverall clothing
- Breathing respirators
- Protective eye goggles/glasses
Employers are required to follow OSHA guidelines when protecting workers from asbestos. However, if you’re a self-employed electrician, be certain to protect yourself at all times when around asbestos. For more information on asbestos protection, view our article,
Additional Information and Resources for Asbestos Victims
If you suffer from an asbestos-related disease, you may be eligible for a large amount of compensation. Currently, there is over $30 billion in asbestos trust funds, set up for those who have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness. Use our free Asbestos Attorney Locator Tool to find a top mesothelioma attorney in your area. For additional assistance, contact us at 800-694-4856.