According to a new study from the Sheet Metal Occupational Health Institute Trust and Duke University, sheet metal workers are at increased risk for asbestos-related diseases.
Sheet metal workers make, install, and maintain a variety of products and equipment that employ sheet metal, including: heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems, roofs, siding, skylights and rain gutters. Sheet metal workers also work on ships, cars, and planes.
Between 1986 and 2004, researchers followed 17,345 individuals with 20 or more years of experience in the sheet metal trade. Information that was collected included smoking history, X-ray results and causes of death. This data was than analyzed using statistical modeling. The researchers found a “statistically significant excess mortality” for pleural cancers,mesothelioma, and asbestosis. Increased lung cancer rates were also found and these rates appeared to be independent of smoking history. The researchers concluded that there was an increased risk for asbestos-related diseases for sheet metal workers even among workers who were indirectly exposed to asbestos.
These results echo earlier studies including one published in 1985 in which an analysis of sheet metal workers who only had sporadic exposure to asbestos demonstrated a significant excess of cancer. In this earlier study, cancers also appeared in the workers at sites associated with asbestos including mesothelioma.
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