Asbestos dangers continue to threaten the lives and well-being of workers in the United States. The fibrous material floats through the air, and unwitting victims inhale the microscopic fibers into their lungs. Repeated exposure to asbestos through inhalation cause asbestosis, lung cancer, and Mesothelioma, all caused by asbestos contamination. Asbestosis is frequently deadly. However, if the asbestos victim survives, he or she will face a lengthy and painful recovery, with life-long symptoms.
Parker Waichman LLP is a national law firm whose lawyers have a passion for finding justice for their clients. Parker Waichman’s asbestos attorneys vigorously pursue financial compensation for those harmed by another’s carelessness and indifference to the suffering of others. Parker Waichman LLP’s clients enjoy the benefit of the firm’s unparalleled success: to date, Parker Waichman has recovered $2 billion in damages for their clients. Do not trust your claim to anyone else.
What Is Asbestos?
Asbestos exists in nature. Asbestos tolerates very high temperatures. Therefore, it is used as an insulator and fire retardant. Manufacturers used asbestos to protect equipment exposed to extremely high temperatures in addition to protecting buildings from fire damage. Asbestos may be found in:
- Insulation containing vermiculite,
- On the underside of floor tiles,
- Housing shingles,
- Some paints and ceiling compounds,
- Areas near or around areas in homes exposed to high temperatures such as a wood stove,
- Pipes in buildings covered by asbestos-based material,
- Fabrics that are heat-resistant, and
- Auto parts such as the clutch and brakes.
Asbestos was found in Montana near a mine filled with vermiculite. Vermiculite is a mineral that grows to a size larger than twice its natural size when heated. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), vermiculite can grow to over 30 times its size. These qualities make vermiculite ideal for heat retardation. However, the vermiculite that was mined in Montana became contaminated with asbestos and infected the vermiculite. Asbestos made its way into the stream of commerce in insulation made from vermiculite as a result of the cross-contamination when mined.
The mine remained in use from 1919 to 1990. Consequently, asbestos-contaminated vermiculite-based insulation could be in homes today.
The Latent Danger of Asbestos
Asbestos remains in use today despite the known dangers caused by prolonged exposure to the substance. Asbestos is the most dangerous when fibers become airborne. Asbestos fibers that infiltrate the air can be inhaled or swallowed by a person near the source. Therefore, care must be taken not to disturb any materials suspected to contain asbestos.
According to the EPA, there is no known safe level of exposure to asbestos. Authorities consider asbestos to be at its most dangerous when it is “friable.” Asbestos is friable when it becomes dry and brittle. In that state, asbestos crumbles easily and comes airborne when disturbed.
Whether asbestos is friable depends on how the substance was applied to the surface of an object. Asbestos that was sprayed to cover pipes crumbles easily. By contrast, asbestos spread on the back of floor tiles does not crumble easily. It whatever state asbestos sits, its fibers will not infiltrate the air unless disturbed.
Asbestos disruption can occur from various activities that are common in a home or business. For instance, asbestos can be disturbed from vibrations, sawing, cutting, removal, aging and deterioration and water damage. Anyone or a combination of these disruptions can cause asbestos to break free from the surface to which it was applied, casting its harmful fibers into the air.
People who work with or around asbestos are at a higher risk of developing asbestos-related illnesses. Numerous manufacturing plants around the country used asbestos for firearms protection and heat retardation. The prolific use of asbestos in manufacturing plants, shipyards, and other businesses exposed workers to breathing in the harmful asbestos fibers. Employees became exposed to asbestos through the manufacturing process of goods which had parts made from asbestos. Also, workers suffered asbestos exposure working in plants in which asbestos fibers contaminated the air they breathed.
Adverse Health Consequences From Asbestos Exposure
Asbestos cannot be destroyed with relative ease. Therefore, once the fibers enter the air,they are difficult to remove. Additionally, the human body is incapable ofeliminating asbestos after it is ingested. People fall ill from asbestos exposure if asbestos fibers become stuck in the nose and throat of the person who breathed it. Also, asbestos fibers can be swallowed and then become trapped in the stomach lining, esophagus, or intestines.
Healthcare professionals have identified three diseases primary identified with inhaling asbestos. Both men and women are at risk from contracting an asbestos-related illness due to exposure to the substance. They are:
- Lung Cancer, and
Asbestosis is a chronic lung disease. It is not cancerous, but it is just as dangerous of a health condition. Asbestosis is a diseased identified by fibrous material embedded in the lung walls. Scar tissue forms at the affected site. The infection causes a dry, cracking sound when the affected person breathes. Also, the person may experience a severe shortness of breath.
Asbestosis is a serious medical condition that cannot be cured. The disease is often fatal because the shortness of breath leads to oxygen deprivation and cardiac arrest. Similarly, the shortness of breath renders the victim disabled and dependent upon others for survival.
People who come in contact with asbestos one time or have it in insulation in their homes are not likely to contract asbestosis. Asbestosis usually affects people who have worked with the substance or near the substance, thereby creating a significant and prolonged exposure to asbestos.
Lung cancer is another disease that people with prolonged exposure to asbestos suffer. Lung cancer is the most significant contributor to asbestos-related deaths. Employees who have worked in manufacturing asbestos components are at a tremendous risk of developing lung cancer. People who work for asbestos remediation companies are also at risk. People who have worked with asbestos have a much higher chance of contracting lung cancer than the average person in a given population. Also, a person exposed to other carcinogens such as cigarette smoke is 90-times more likely to develop cancer than a person who did not smoke or was not exposed to asbestos.
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that infects the lining of organs such as the heart, lungs, and stomach. Doctors diagnose two hundred patients each year with mesothelioma. All known cases of the disease may be traced to asbestos interaction. People manufactured goods containing asbestos are the highest risk of contracting mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is particularly insidious. Not only do the people who work with asbestos run the risk of developing mesothelioma, but their family is also at risk from bringing home airborne, fibrous asbestos, as well as people who lived near shipyard where asbestos was commonly used, and people who lived near an asbestos mine are at risk as well.
A person who is suffering from an asbestos-related disease may receive compensation for their illness. Similarly, the estate of someone who died from an asbestos-related disease has rights as well. The rights a person or estate might have depend on the jurisdiction in which the claim is filed. Also, there are trust funds established by previous asbestos litigation claims for the benefit of future sufferers of diseases caused by asbestos.
The reach of asbestos goes far beyond serious illnesses. Of course, the person who fell ill can no longer support their family because they cannot work. That means their family must care for them, at a great expense of money, time, and resources.
Help When You Need It Most
Call Parker Waichman LLP to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your rights if you or someone you love is suffering from the adverse effects of asbestos exposure or has a diseased connected to asbestos exposure. You can fill out our online form if it is more convenient than calling.Time is of the essence. Therefore, you must call Parker Waichman LLP today at 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529) and speak with one of our experienced asbestos attorneys about your rights.