Asbestos, Mesothelioma, and the Railroad: What You Should Know

Asbestos Mesothelioma-Induced Cancer Amongst Railroad Workers

What is the connection between asbestos, a natural mineral and toxin identified as cancer-causing, and railroad workers? Let’s take a deeper look.
Asbestos causes mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive cancer that develops on the tissue that surrounds the lungs, chest wall, and diaphragm. A connection has been made between railroad workers exposed to asbestos and this type of cancer diagnosis. Because each individual airborne fiber of asbestos is invisible to the naked eye, there can be hundreds or thousands of airborne, breathable asbestos fibers in the air, and railroad workers would never even see the toxic cancer-causing fibers.

Type of Workers Affected

Our Virginia Beach railroad mesothelioma attorneys focus on individuals diagnosed with mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure while working on railroads—specifically railroad engineers, conductors, track workers, and shop workers. These employees are most frequently exposed to asbestos products in their line of duty.
You may ask why someone may remain in a position that exposes them to toxic substances. Sometimes, they have little choice as it is their sole source of income. Additionally, many railroad workers are unaware of the dangers of exposure and have been put to work in these environments without the proper protective equipment or access to respirators that would limit the toxicity.

Why Asbestos?

While the consequences of asbestos use have proven to be extremely unfortunate, it played a crucial role in helping the railroad industry succeed.
Some of the key reasons asbestos has been used in the railroad industry include:
Fire Resistance: Asbestos is highly fire resistant, making it an enticing material for applications across the railroad industry. Trains historically relied upon coal-fired steam engines, which made the risk of fires breaking out quite high, and even after diesel engines were introduced, it was still used as the preferred insulation material in diesel engines and other types of railroad equipment and supplies.
Heat Insulation: Asbestos is an excellent insulator capable of withstanding high temperatures without conducting heat, making it suitable for insulating many parts of locomotives and railroad cars. Asbestos also proved useful as an insulation for boiler and steam pipes.
Noise Reduction: Asbestos was also used as a noise-dampening material, reducing the noise caused by moving train parts and making it a more comfortable ride for passengers.

Railroad Asbestos Exposure Types

Maintenance and Repair: Employees involved in railroad maintenance and repair frequently encountered asbestos while working with insulation, gaskets, and brake linings, all components containing asbestos. When workers cut gaskets, asbestos fibers were released into the air, leading to a high risk of exposure. Asbestos was specifically used for brake systems because of its heat-resistant qualities. Therefore, workers who handled brake repairs were often exposed to asbestos fibers.
Insulation: Asbestos is a highly effective insulation material; therefore, workers who removed or repaired insulation were unknowingly exposed to asbestos fibers, including those individuals who worked on engine compartments, pipes, and boilers.

Signs of Asbestos Exposure

If you worked on a railroad and are worried you may have experienced asbestos exposure, it is vital to keep an eye out for the following symptoms:
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Painful coughing (dry cough)
  • Unexplained weight loss

Contact a Virginia Beach railroad Mesothelioma Attorney Today

Our Virginia asbestos and mesothelioma attorneys have successfully represented railroad workers and families who have lost their loved ones to the fatal disease mesothelioma. We are dedicated to achieving your specific case’s best results and outcome, and we have collected thousands of pages of railroad industry information about which products contained toxic asbestos and what CSX, Norfolk Southern, Amtrak, and other railroads knew when they knew it and what they did about the toxic workplace dangers. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or any cancer that may be related to asbestos or have lost a loved one to the disease, contact Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp. We will evaluate your claim at no cost to you or your family and are prepared to fight for you!


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