High-Risk Occupations

Finding a job you enjoy can be incredibly rewarding. When that job becomes your career and gives you a way to provide for your family, a sense of pride can follow you to work every single day.

Unfortunately, many people are now discovering that, due to their specific occupation, they may have been exposed to asbestos. Many common trades and industrial occupations put workers at risk of asbestos exposure on a daily basis. Now, decades later, some of these workers are being diagnosed with mesothelioma, a deadly cancer caused by asbestos, as well as other asbestos-related diseases.

If you or someone you love worked in one of these occupations before the 1980s, there is a higher likelihood of asbestos exposure. Before that time, manufacturers of asbestos-containing products as well as many industries that used asbestos in their daily operations, hid the truth from their workers about the dangers of exposure to the deadly material — choosing to put profits over people’s lives and the lives of their families. Mesothelioma has a very long latency period — it can take 30-50 years to develop. If you or someone you love has recently been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it can likely be traced back to asbestos exposure that occurred decades ago.

Click on any of the occupations or industries below to learn more about how asbestos exposure may have occurred, and which individuals were most likely at risk.

Auto Mechanic

Asbestos was commonly used in many different car parts prior to 1980 — including brakes and clutches — that many auto mechanics came into contact with every single day. As they manufactured and repaired vehicles, asbestos fibers were often released into the air and could be easily inhaled.

Custodial Worker

Former custodians, janitors, and building maintenance workers may have been exposed to asbestos in any of the structures they worked in. Asbestos was regularly used in insulation and other building materials prior to 1980.


Due to its fire-resistant properties, asbestos was a very popular material when it came to the construction of many residential and commercial buildings before 1980. Unfortunately, when those buildings caught fire and firefighters arrived to control the blaze, they may have also inhaled asbestos fibers that had been released into the air.


Military veterans, especially those who served in the U.S. Navy, make up a large percentage of asbestos exposure and mesothelioma cases. Veterans may have been exposed to asbestos that was used throughout military vessels built before 1980, as well as while performing jobs during their service or as civilians.


Individuals who were plumbers before 1980 have a higher risk of developing mesothelioma because they likely encountered asbestos on a regular basis. Asbestos was used to insulate pipes, boilers, tanks, ducts, and other plumbing systems.


Asbestos was used throughout the construction of ships prior to 1980. During construction or repairs, asbestos dust was often released into the air and anyone in the surrounding area would have been in danger of inhaling the asbestos fibers.


Welding was a high-risk occupation prior to 1980 because welders didn’t just work in buildings that were constructed with asbestos-containing materials — materials and tools they worked with directly, like pipes and welding rods, may have also contained asbestos.