Asbestos & Mesothelioma Attorneys
Asbestos is a set of six naturally occurring silicate minerals exploited commercially for their desirable physical properties. They all have in common their asbesti form habit, long, (1:20) thin fibrous crystals. The inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause serious illnesses, including malignant lung cancer, mesothelioma (a formerly rare cancer strongly associated with exposure to amphibole asbestos), and asbestosis (a type of pneumoconiosis). Long exposure to high concentrations of asbestos fibers is more likely to cause health problems, as asbestos exists in the ambient air at low levels, which itself does not cause health problems.
Asbestos became increasingly popular among manufacturers and builders in the late 19th century because of its sound absorption, average tensile strength, and its resistance to heat, electrical and chemical damage. When asbestos is used for its resistance to fire or heat, the fibers are often mixed with cement or woven into fabric or mats. Asbestos was used in some products for its heat resistance, and in the past was used on electric oven and hotplate wiring for its electrical insulation at elevated temperature, and in buildings for its flame-retardant and insulating properties, tensile strength, flexibility, and resistance to chemicals.
Six minerals are defined by the United States Environmental Protection Agency as “asbestos” including that belonging to the serpentine class chrysotile and that belonging to the amphibole class amosite, crocidolite, tremolite, anthophyllite and actinolite. There is an important distinction to be made between serpentine and amphibole asbestos due to differences in their chemical composition and their degree of potency as a health hazard when inhaled. However asbestos and all commercial forms of asbestos (including chrysotile asbestos) are known to be human carcinogens based on sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in humans.
Asbestos was a component of products manufactured and/or used in nearly every industry in America. The following are examples of workers known to have worked with or around asbestos containing products.
JOBS WITH ASBESTOS EXPOSURE
- Auto Mechanics (clutches and brakes)
- Steel workers
- Maritime Mechanics
- Paper Mill Workers
- Oil and Chemical Refinery Workers
- Shipyard workers
- Railroad workers
- Crane Operators
- Construction Workers
- Demolition workers
- Cement Pipe Makers
- Packing and Gasket Manufacturers
The following are examples of products known to have contained asbestos. You may have been exposed to asbestos from these products if you or a family member worked with or around or used other asbestos containing products.
ASBESTOS CONTAINING PRODUCTS
- Brake pads and shoes
- Clutch plates
- Fire blankets
- drywall and joint compound
- thermal pipe insulation
- thermal insulation
- block insulation
- packing (used for sealing a rotating shaft)
- mud and texture coats
- vinyl floor tiles, sheeting, adhesives
- roofing tars, felts, siding, and shingles
- “transite” panels, siding, countertops, and pipes
- popcorn ceilings, also known as acoustic ceilings
- stage curtains
- fire blankets
- interior fire doors
- fireproof clothing for firefighters
- asbestos cloth and clothing
- roofing materials
- floor and ceiling tiles
- filters for removing fine particulates from chemicals, liquids, and
- paper machine clothing/dryer felts
- dental cast linings
- HVAC flexible duct connectors
- Asbestos cement
- Drilling fluid additives
Companies that manufactured asbestos-containing products knew about the dangers of asbestos-related diseases for more than six decades. These companies concealed the truth, placing both their own employees and the end-users of their products at risk, choosing fortune over the lives of American workers.
Amosite and crocidolite are the most hazardous of the asbestos minerals because of their long persistence in the lungs of exposed people. Tremolite often contaminates chrysotile asbestos, thus creating an additional hazard. Chrysotile asbestos, like all other forms of asbestos, has produced tumors in animals. Mesotheliomas have been observed in people who were occupationally exposed to chrysotile, family members of the occupationally exposed, and residents who lived close to asbestos factories and mines. According to the NCI, “A history of asbestos exposure at work is reported in about 70 percent to 80 percent of all cases. However, mesothelioma has been reported in some individuals without any known exposure to asbestos.” The most common diseases associated with chronic exposure to asbestos include: asbestosis and pleural abnormalities (mesothelioma, lung cancer).
Asbestos exposure becomes a health concern when high concentrations of asbestos fibers are inhaled over a long time period. People who become ill from inhaling asbestos are often those who are exposed on a day-to-day basis in a job where they worked directly with the material. As a person’s exposure to fibers increases, because of being exposed to higher concentrations of fibers and/or by being exposed for a longer time, then that person’s risk of disease also increases.
Asbestos exposure has been linked to pleural plaques, asbestosis, asbestos-related cancers (including cancer of the lungs, esophagus and larynx), and mesothelioma. Smoking cigarettes has been shown to increase the risk of cancer for people exposed to asbestos.
Mesothelioma, more precisely malignant mesothelioma, is a rare form of cancer that develops from the protective lining that covers many of the body’s internal organs, the mesothelium. The only known cause for mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos.
Its most common site is the pleura (outer lining of the lungs and internal chest wall), but it may also occur in the peritoneum (the lining of the abdominal cavity), the pericardium (a sac that surrounds the heart), or the tunica vaginalis (a sac that surrounds the testis).
Most people who develop mesothelioma have worked on jobs where they inhaled asbestos, or they have been exposed to asbestos dust and fiber in other ways. It has also been suggested that washing the clothes of a family member who worked with asbestos or glass can put a person at risk for developing mesothelioma. Unlike lung cancer, there is no association between mesothelioma and smoking, but smoking greatly increases the risk of other asbestos-induced cancers. Those who have been exposed to asbestos often utilize attorneys to collect damages for asbestos-related disease, including mesothelioma.
The symptoms of mesothelioma include shortness of breath due to pleural effusion (fluid between the lung and the chest wall) or chest wall pain, and general symptoms such as weight loss. The diagnosis may be suspected with chest X-ray and CT scan, and is confirmed with a biopsy (tissue sample) and microscopic examination. A thoracoscopy (inserting a tube with a camera into the chest) can be used to take biopsies. It allows the introduction of substances such as talc to obliterate the pleural space (called pleurodesis), which prevents more fluid from accumulating and pressing on the lung. Despite treatment with chemotherapy, radiation therapy or sometimes surgery, the disease carries a poor prognosis.
Symptoms or signs of mesothelioma may not appear until 20 to 50 years (or more) after exposure to asbestos. Shortness of breath, cough, and pain in the chest due to an accumulation of fluid in the pleural space (pleural effusion) are often symptoms of pleural mesothelioma.
Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include weight loss and cachexia, abdominal swelling and pain due to ascites (a buildup of fluid in the abdominal cavity). Other symptoms of Peritoneal Mesothelioma may include bowel obstruction, blood clotting abnormalities, anemia, and fever. If the cancer has spread beyond the mesothelium to other parts of the body, symptoms may include pain, trouble swallowing, or swelling of the neck or face.
These symptoms may be caused by mesothelioma or by other, less serious conditions.
MESOTHELIOMA – SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
- Chest wall pain
- Pleural effusion, or fluid surrounding the lung
- Shortness of breath
- Fatigue or anemia
- Wheezing, hoarseness, or cough
- Blood in the sputum (fluid) coughed up (hemoptysis)
In severe cases, the person may have many tumor masses. The individual may develop a pneumothorax, or collapse of the lung. The disease may metastasize, or spread, to other parts of the body.
The duration of exposure to asbestos causing mesothelioma can be short. For example, cases of mesothelioma have been documented with only 1–3 months of exposure. People who work with asbestos wear personal protective equipment to lower their risk of exposure.
Latency, the time from first exposure to manifestation of disease, is prolonged in the case of mesothelioma. It is virtually never less than fifteen years and peaks at 30–40 years.
Information contained in this page is from multiple sources, including Wikipedia. This information should not be used as a tool for self-diagnosis, but is included to provide information regarding potential causes for asbestos-related diseases. You should consult with your doctor regarding the diagnosis and treatment of this or any medical condition. You should consult with Scheuermann & Jones, LLC if you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related condition and want information regarding possible legal action.