Mesothelioma Caused by Asbestos Exposure Years Ago
What is Asbestos and what is its relationship to Mesothelioma?
It is well known that prolonged exposure to certain substances can have dire consequences. One such toxic substance is asbestos. Asbestos is the name given to a group of six naturally occurring minerals. However, don’t be fooled by the fact that they are “naturally occurring”. Exposure to asbestos can lead to a form of cancer known as mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a cancer of the thin lining surrounding the lung or the abdominal cavity. Asbestos fibers are widely used within many industries due to their ability to resist heat, fire, chemicals, and inability to conduct electricity. Materials containing asbestos become dangers once they are disturbed or deteriorated. Unfortunately, when asbestos breaks down into dust the microscopic fibers can be easily inhaled or digested into the body. Since asbestos fibers are so durable, they can stay in the body for years and result in asbestos-related diseases, such as mesothelioma. More importantly, symptoms do not usually appear until 10 to 30 years after the exposure. While the federal government has made attempts to regulate the levels of these toxic substances, it has been unable to eliminate all the hazards causing injury and death.
Who is at risk?
We are all exposed to small amount of asbestos just by breathing. However, those most at risk are individuals who are exposed to asbestos regularly. This includes:
- People who work for companies that make or use asbestos products
- People work in asbestos mining
- People who live near industries or areas that are involved in the aforementioned activities
- People involved in demolition, building, home repairs, and home remodeling
- People drinking from asbestos-containing cement pipes
What products can asbestos be found in?
- Furnace insulation
- Roofing Shingles
- Textured Paint
- Coating Materials
- Floor Tiles
- Paper Products
- Car/Truck Brakes & Clutches
- Buildings constructed in the 60’s
- Heat-Resistant Fabrics
How does Asbestos affect my health?
Asbestos primarily affects the lungs and surrounding membrane. Inhaling high levels of asbestos fibers for a prolonged period time can produce scar-like tissue in both the lungs and surrounding membrane. Yet breathing lower levels of asbestos is also dangerous because it can result in restricted breathing. It is important to note that cigarette smoke and asbestos exposure combined greatly increases your chances for developing cancer. If you suspect that you may be at risk for asbestos exposure in your home then you should contact either the state or local health department or the EPA to validate your suspicions and locate a company that is qualified to remove the asbestos fibers.
What are my legal remedies?
There are several possible actions you may take if you have been exposed to asbestos or have lost a loved one resulting from their exposure to asbestos. One option is to bring a lawsuit against the manufacturers of asbestos products. Another option is to sue the property owners of where the asbestos exposure occurred. Lastly, and perhaps the most common legal action taken, is to bring a workers’ compensation claim against the employer. Although you may choose to take legal action, it can be difficult to succeed on your claim. For example, in order to succeed on a workers’ compensation claim, it is necessary to prove that you have the disease and that you were exposed to it at the workplace of the employer. This can become quite difficult if more than one place of employment is involved. For further information on asbestos in the workplace, visit the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) website to learn about the hazards associated with asbestos, how to evaluate asbestos exposure, and the methods used to protect from asbestos, http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/asbestos/index.html.