Asbestos exposure is the only confirmed cause of mesothelioma in the United States. The presence of dust from an asbestos-containing product often leads to asbestos exposure and presents an immediate and significant risk of developing mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases, such as asbestos lung cancer or asbestosis.
Asbestos is a mineral that is milled into microscopic fibers. Asbestos has been used in hundreds of consumer and industrial products. When those products are sanded, cut, or broken apart, they release asbestos dust.
When asbestos is breathed in, the small fibers enter the deep recesses of the lung. Some asbestos fibers remain in the lung tissue where they can cause asbestosis or lung cancer. However, many asbestos fibers move from the lung to other areas of the body, including the pleura (lining of the lungs), and peritoneum (lining of the abdomen). Here they slowly form mesothelioma cancer that may take decades to detect.
There is No Safe Level of Asbestos Exposure
Asbestos exposure can cause mesothelioma even when the exposure occurred only for a short duration. For example, asbestos exposure from a summer job in a person’s teens has been known to cause mesothelioma. Having said that, one breath of asbestos taken over a lifetime will not likely cause mesothelioma or an asbestos related disease.
Most industries have phased asbestos out of their products, but it is still used in the United States. Efforts are underway in the U.S. Congress to ban the use of the compound.
Forms of Asbestos Exposure
Generally, there are three types of asbestos exposure, all of which can lead to development of mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases:
Direct exposure occurs when a person is directly exposed to asbestos or an asbestos-containing material. Direct exposure usually occurs in the workplace, but can also happen when working with asbestos-containing products at home.
Bystander exposure occurs when a person standing near or in the vicinity of asbestos breathes fibers or dust that is spread into the air.
Secondary exposure, also known as take-home exposure, occurs when a spouse or parent unknowingly brings asbestos home from work on their clothing. This exposure most often affects the family member who does the worker’s laundry. But close contact, such as a welcome-home hug, can also result in exposure to asbestos dust.
Types of Asbestos
Three major types of asbestos have been sold commercially in the United States, and all of them are known to cause mesothelioma.
- Chrysotile (which accounts for more than 90% of the asbestos sold in this country);
- Crocidolite (blue) asbestos.
The above types of asbestos have been used in a vast array of products:
- Boiler cement;
- Brake linings;
- Cement insulation;
- Clutch facings;
- Electrical panels;
- Floor tile;
- Fireproofing spray;
- Furnace cement;
- Heat exchangers;
- Industrial ovens;
- Insulated wire and cable;
- Joint compounds;
- Lighting fixtures;
- Pipe insulation;
- Steam traps;
- Printing equipment;
- Tiles (roof, floor and ceiling);
- Transite siding;
- Welding rods.
Asbestos Exposure in the Workplace
By far, the most common source of asbestos exposure is the workplace. Certain trades have seen the greatest numbers of mesothelioma cases:
- Auto repair (mechanic);
- Boat construction (boat builder);
- Boiler repair (boilermaker);
- Brickwork (bricklayer);
- Building inspection;
- Carpentry (carpenter);
- Commercial painting (painter);
- Electrical work (electrician);
- Engineering (engineer);
- Factory work;
- Foundry work;
- Furnace repair;
- Insulation (insulator);
- Machining (machinist);
- Masonry (mason);
- Mechanical repair (mechanic);
- Merchant marine (sailor);
- Millwork (millwright);
- Other equipment repair;
- Pipe-fitting (pipe fitter);
- Plastering (plasterer);
- Plumbing (plumber);
- Power plant work;
- Pump repair;
- Refinery work;
- Ship construction (ship builder);
- Ship repair;
- Steam fitting (steam fitter);
- Steel manufacturing (steelworker);
- Welding (welder);
- US Navy.
Unfortunately, workers were not warned about the dangers of asbestos contained in the products they worked with, and this failure to warn has resulted in widespread incidents of mesothelioma and asbestos-related diseases across the country.
Mesothelioma usually arises at least fifteen years after a person’s first exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma victims are usually shocked to learn that asbestos exposure that occurred many years ago has caused their present-day cancer.
Under the law of most states, pain and suffering from mesothelioma may be compensated through the award of money damages, usually obtained with the help of experienced mesothelioma attorneys. In some states other types of damages may also be recovered.
Asbestos litigation affords mesothelioma victims the opportunity to receive financial compensation and hold accountable the companies that caused their asbestos exposure.
- Preserve your rights to bring a legal action against the responsible parties within the limited time frame allowed by law, known as statute of limitations;
- Obtain maximum compensation in your case by being able to:
- Preserve evidence and establish facts of the asbestos exposure while the claimant is still alive and able to provide information;
- File and resolve a lawsuit against the responsible parties before they file for bankruptcy or, if they already have, to obtain compensation before their bankruptcy trust funds run out of money;
- Expedite your case, as courts tend to give higher priority to mesothelioma lawsuits where the claimant is still alive.