Asbestos Exposure Attorneys
Do You Think You or a Loved One Is Suffering from an Asbestos-Related Disease? Here’s How You May Have Been Exposed.
While some Americans have grown up knowing the dangers inherent to asbestos, this is a relatively recent bit of “common wisdom” to most. America first implemented nationwide regulation of asbestos in 1971. Over the next two decades, various government institutions implemented stricter controls, culminating with the EPA’s ban of the substance in 1989.
However, just two years later, that ban was overturned in courts. Therefore, products that contain asbestos can still be sold in the U.S. Between the lack of comprehensive market controls and the fact that many asbestos-using products have endured as they were built to, Americans may still be exposed to the toxic substance today.
There are multiple types of asbestos: The word refers not to a specific chemical configuration, but to a group of fibrous minerals. All of the minerals encompassed by this designation occur naturally. They can be further categorized as:
- Chrysotile (or serpentine) asbestos, which has long, flexible fibers
- Amphibole asbestos, which creates more brittle fibers that make a rod or needle shape
Chrysotile fibers are more commonly used in commercial products. Though amphibole fibers tend to stay in the lungs longer and are more likely to cause mesothelioma, exposure to either could put you at risk.
Were you exposed to asbestos? Our attorneys can help you request compensation for any related medical issues you are now facing. Reach out to us at (888) 495-1250 or send a message to schedule a free consultation with us.
The History of Asbestos Use
Asbestos became popular in the industrial era when its properties were found to meet many needs for the modern world. Asbestos is a strong material that is also heat-resistant, fireproof, resistant to damage from many chemicals, and a good insulator.
At the peak of its use, in the 1920s, more than 100,000 metric tons of the material were mined annually from workers across the world. At the same time, medical professionals noticed a correlation between exposure to asbestos and a series of respiratory symptoms that were often fatal. The first official report regarding asbestos workers’ disease risk was published in 1918 in the American Journal of Roentgenology. Doctors began to use the term “asbestosis” to describe the illness caused by the inhalation of the material.
In 1924, the British Medical Journal published a study on “fibrosis of the lungs” among asbestos workers.
In 1933, the British government began to regulate the use of asbestos to protect workers against inhalation of the dangerous dust. The U.S. government did not follow for a long time. Now, many people who were exposed to asbestos decades ago are facing serious illnesses because of it.
Common Sources of Asbestos Exposure
Workers in asbestos mines and factories faced high levels of asbestos exposure, but they were hardly the only ones. Asbestos had many applications.
Exposure to Consumers and Industry Workers
Everything from buildings to military technology to commercial products made before 1981 could contain this substance.
You may have been exposedif you worked with, lived around, or came into contact with old:
- Ceiling tiles
- Cement, plaster, putties, and caulk
- Clutch pads
- Heat-resistant textiles
- Industrial pipe wrappings
- Roofing and siding shingles
- Spray-on ceiling coatings
- Vinyl floor titles
The military also found many uses for asbestos, though use began to taper off in the mid-1970s.
Before that, it could be found in:
- Adhesives and cements
- Lagging (floor and pipe covering)
- Ships and various shipyard materials
Workers in asbestos-related industries not only suffered frequent exposure to the substance, but they could also put their families at risk. Microscopic asbestos fibers often settled on their clothes during the workday. Other family members at home therefore could be repeatedly exposed to asbestos, even if they didn’t know it. If you lived with someone who worked with or around asbestos and think you have an asbestos-related disease, reach out to us.
Sadly, asbestos is still a concern in some products on the market. For instance, Johnson & Johnson talcum powder has allegedly been contaminated for decades (talc and asbestos often occur side by side in rocks). Though most current cases of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related disease are related to older exposure events, Americans may continue to develop these conditions until a complete ban is enacted.
Today, asbestos may still be found in:
- Brake linings
- Roofing shingles
Complications of Asbestos Exposure
How Asbestos Affects the Body
Asbestos fibers can be inhaled or, less frequently, enter the body through the skin. Their microscopic size allows them to bypass many of the body’s defense mechanisms, meaning they can wreak havoc on our systems.
- Lungs: When asbestos fibers make it into the lungs, they irritate its lining and cause inflammation. It may also lead to the formation of scar tissue made of connective collagen fibers rather than the normal soft lung tissue.
- Pleura: This membrane lining the lungs often sustains damage from asbestos fibers that are able to pass into it via the lungs.
However, asbestos-related disease may not occur for 10 years, 20 years, or even longer after a person was exposed.
Diseases Caused by Asbestos
There is no safe amount of asbestos to be exposed to, meaning anyone who comes into contact with this substance may be at risk for one of the following medical problems:
Asbestos exposure can cause many medical issues:
- Asbestosis, or scarring of the lungs, which can make it harder to breathe
- Cancer, which can affect various organs: the larynx, lungs, ovaries, pharynx, stomach, and colorectum.
- Empyema, an infection of pleural fluid.
- Fibrotic Lung Disease, or asbestosis, a condition where scar tissue builds up in the lungs.
- Heart Disease, which is most commonly linked with exposure to chrysotile asbestos.
- Lung Collapse, when pleural fluid builds up and exerts too much pressure.
- Mesothelioma, a cancer of a membrane that surrounds internal organs.
- Pleural Effusions, or an accumulation of fluid around the lungs. When asbestos fibers make it into the pleura, the membrane can begin to swell or become inflamed. Blood vessels in the area may begin to leak fluids. Pleural effusions can be connected to mesothelioma, but do not always co-occur with the cancer.
- Pleural Plaques, or areas of fibrotic scar tissue on the parietal or visceral pleura or the diaphragm.
- Pleural Thickening, when the pleura begins to accumulate scar tissue from the damage caused by asbestos fibers. As the pleura become less flexible, patients may find it harder to breathe.
A person’s likelihood of developing asbestos-related health problems depends on their level of exposure. Higher concentrations, more frequent contact, and longer-lasting exposure all increase your risk. The size, shape, and type of fiber, as well as the source of the exposure, can matter too. Finally, individual factors including certain genetic mutations, pre-existing lung disease, and history of smoking can also increase an individual’s risk of illness.
Are You Suffering Asbestos-Related Health Problems?
The continued use of asbestos despite widespread knowledge of the hazards it posed to workers and consumers is a plain case of negligence by the companies that encouraged it. Robins Cloud LLP has been fighting for the victims of asbestos exposure for decades. All the changes and challenges you’re facing because of your illness—from missed work to medical bills to a decreased quality of life—are something we may be able to help you address in a lawsuit.
If you are considering whether a mesothelioma claim is right for you, reach out to our team. We can answer your questions and clarify your rights.
Call Robins Cloud LLP at (888) 495-1250 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with our team. Though we’re located in Texas, we often travel to meet clients nationwide.