Asbestos: An Invisible Killer
Asbestos is a fibrous mineral that has been used as insulation and a fire retardant in a wide variety of products. Asbestos can produce dust that, when inhaled, becomes deposited in the lungs. Asbestos in the lungs can cause or contribute to the development of illnesses, especially mesothelioma (a malignant form of cancer in the lining of the chest or abdominal cavities), asbestosis (a fibrous scarring of the lungs) and lung cancer.
Federal regulation of asbestos began in the 1970s. Due to health concerns, all new uses of asbestos in the United States were banned in July 1989. That year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule, entitled “Asbestos: Manufacture, Importation, Processing, and Distribution in Commerce Prohibitions,” which eventually led to banning about 94 percent of the asbestos used in the US (based on 1985 estimates). Most asbestos uses established before that date are still allowed, but now are strictly regulated by the government.
If you have an asbestos-related illness like mesothelioma or an asbestos contamination problem in your home or business, talk to an experienced, skilled asbestos attorney. Contact our firm to learn more about your potential legal remedies.
Mesothelioma, a relatively rare condition, is a deadly, aggressive cancer almost always linked to contact with asbestos. Typically, people suffering from mesothelioma have a history of asbestos exposure that was heavy, repeated and concentrated in an industrial setting. However, the heavy exposure may have been for a period as short as a couple of months.
Other Asbestos-Related Diseases
In addition to mesothelioma, exposure to airborne asbestos fibers increases the risk of two other major diseases: asbestosis and lung cancer. Asbestos also heightens the risk of stomach, gallbladder, larynx and kidney cancer. Asbestos-related diseases can take decades to develop, often manifesting after retirement from an industrial career that involved asbestos exposure. Governmental regulation of asbestos has tightened significantly since the 1970s, so asbestos exposure has been greatly reduced.
Asbestosis is a kind of pulmonary fibrosis or scarring of the tissue of the lung. It is caused by the inhalation of airborne asbestos fibers. Inhaling asbestos dust causes an inflammatory response in the lungs resulting in permanent scarring (fibrosis). The scarring can seriously compromise the health of the victim and, in severe cases, can be fatal. In addition to having the potential to be a serious disease, asbestosis also can be a harbinger of asbestos-related cancer.
Lung cancer occurs when malignant cells originate in the lung. It is the most common asbestos-related cancer found in current or ex-smokers who have a history of asbestos exposure. Asbestos causes lung cancer. While it is common knowledge that smoking causes lung cancer, the combination of smoking and asbestos exposure is deadly. The effect is synergistic, since both cause lung cancer.
Pleural plaques are the hardening and scarring of the pleura, the lining of the lung. This can cause breathing problems and is underlying evidence that a person has been exposed to asbestos. It is a marker for asbestos exposure. A person suffering with pleural plaques is at an increased risk for more serious asbestos disease such as a diagnosis of Mesothelioma.