For more than a century, the mineral asbestos was widely used because of its unique insulating properties. It was regularly found in industrial and commercial applications ranging from basic building insulation to specialized situations where extreme heat is regularly generated, like automobile brake pads.
People eventually began to realize that the same fine fibers that made asbestos such a valuable insulator would, if breathed into the lungs, cause serious health problems for anyone exposed to it. By the 1970s, almost all commercial uses of asbestos were either banned or tightly regulated.
But the buildings, ships, and vehicles built before that time are still full of the toxic fiber, and people were still exposed to it years after it was removed from wide usage. Workers who were employed in shipyards during World War II, or who suffered asbestos exposure in steel plants, powerhouses or construction trades, are especially at risk.
Also at risk are their family members. Frequently, asbestos fibers are brought into the home on the work clothes of those exposed to it through their jobs.
Common Asbestos Related Diseases
Asbestos-related diseases can take many years to develop and become apparent. This means that someone exposed—either directly or indirectly—years ago may just now be experiencing major health problems. Some common asbestos-related diseases include:
- Mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is the most devastating of the asbestos-related diseases and invariably results in death. Mesothelioma is a malignant tumor that attacks the pleura or the peritoneum, which are the thin membrane linings that surround the lungs and the abdominal cavity. Malignant mesothelioma is virtually always the result of asbestos exposure.
- Lung cancer and other cancers. Lung cancer involves a malignant tumor that originates in the lung tissue (parenchyma), and, as with any malignancy, is a life-threatening disease. Other cancers, including throat, stomach or colon cancer, have also been linked to asbestos exposure. Victims who inhaled or ingested small amounts of asbestos fibers over a prolonged period of time may be at risk for developing these diseases.
- Asbestosis. Asbestosis includes lung scarring or fibrosis caused by microscopic-size asbestos fibers that are deposited in the small airways of the lungs. The symptoms of asbestosis include shortness of breath, dry cough, and fatigue. Asbestosis also impairs the gas exchange—that is, scar tissue in the lungs prevents the transfer of oxygen into the bloodstream and, in advanced cases, may result in death.
Contact Ashcraft & Gerel for Help with an Asbestos or Mesothelioma Case
For more than 30 years, the attorneys at Ashcraft & Gerel have represented thousands of clients who were exposed to asbestos poisoning at work or in their home. If you think you may be suffering the effects of asbestos exposure, we encourage you to contact us immediately to help you protect your legal rights.