Asbestos is responsible for approximately 10,000 deaths per year in the U.S.; however, it is still not banned in the U.S. or Canada. Many of these deaths are caused by mesothelioma from asbestos. According to The Environmental Working Group’s Asbestos Nation, mesothelioma killed an estimated 39,870 people between 1999 and 2013.
The only known cause of mesothelioma appears to be asbestos particles in the air that you breathe. Mesothelioma is a disease of the mesothelium, the outer covering that surrounds most of our internal organs. It can take as long as 20-50 years before symptoms are present from exposure to asbestos.
Even though we know of its dangers, asbestos is still not banned in our country or in Canada. It is still in use in a variety of products used daily. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that there are 3,000 different types of commercial products being used in the U.S. today that contain asbestos. This includes building materials, brake pads, and fire retardant materials and products.
Rules and Regulations
The asbestos rules and regulations in the U.S. primarily come from the EPA and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Workers are protected by OSHA regulations, and the general public and school children are protected by EPA regulations.
The OSHA regulations apply to construction, remodeling, and demolition activities performed in public buildings and apartment buildings, and most other occupations that involve asbestos. These laws require people who work in high risk occupations to wear protective clothing and respiratory equipment when handling asbestos. Employers are responsible for providing their employees with this safety gear and proper training for the safe handling of asbestos. Workers must also be advised that they are working with or near asbestos.
Who is at risk?
Anyone who is exposed to asbestos may be at risk; however, people that are exposed to large amounts for long periods of time are at the greatest risk of developing an asbestos-related illness. People who work directly with asbestos on a daily basis are at the greatest risk. This includes workers who directly handle asbestos and those who are exposed through significant environmental contact, such as:
- Boiler or furnace repairmen
- Automobile mechanics working on brakes or clutches
- Construction, shipyard, and railway workers
The family members of these workers are also placed at risk. Many cases of secondhand asbestos exposure have recently been reported by wives and children of men who worked in shipyards in World War II.
Asbestos deteriorates as it ages, allowing particles into the air. Particles get into the air when the asbestos is disturbed. The chance of getting an asbestos-related illness increases with the amount and duration of time exposed to it.
Is Asbestos Always Dangerous?
In its natural state, asbestos is harmless. However, when it is broken down and disturbed, the fibers separate and become airborne. Because the fibers are so tiny, they are easily inhaled through the mouth or nose and become lodged in the lining of the lungs. As the fibers accumulate, they can cause severe irritation that can lead to the development of fatal illnesses, such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, and other types of cancer.
As mentioned, asbestos illnesses can take up to 50 years to develop. If you were exposed to large amounts of asbestos in the past, you might still be at risk. If you experience symptoms such as those below, you should seek medical attention:
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty swallowing
- Sudden weight loss
- Persistent nausea or vomiting
- Chest pain
- Heart palpitations
- Persistent cough
Preliminary diagnosis may result from chest x-ray and CT scan. Treatment with chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or surgery still has poor results. Be sure to tell your doctor about your prior history of asbestos exposure if you experience any of these symptoms.
Do I Have a Legal Case if I Have Mesothelioma From Asbestos Exposure?
You may be able to recover compensation if you have developed mesothelioma because of your exposure to asbestos. You may be compensated for damages such as medical bills, reduced earning capacity, and pain and suffering. Each state has a statute of limitations on mesothelioma cases, so be sure to contact an asbestos lawyer immediately following your diagnosis. Schedule a free consultation or call one of our attorneys at 888-LAW-8500.