What is Asbestos?
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), asbestos is a name given to six fibrous minerals found in certain types of rock formations. Three of the minerals have been commonly used in building products as it is durable, fire retardant, resists corrosion, and insulates well. When asbestos is left intact it is not a health risk. However, because fibers made from these minerals are small and light, they can remain in the air for hours when disturbed or damaged. If inhaled, these fibers can infiltrate the lungs and increase the risk of developing lung cancer, mesothelioma, or asbestosis. Symptoms can take 20 -30 years to appear after being exposed to the asbestos fibers.
What is the Risk of Asbestos Exposure?
Almost everyone has been exposed to asbestos at some point of their life. It is usually only a danger however, to those that are exposed to it on a regular basis. Asbestos has been widely used in many different industries and products. It has been used in the building and construction trades as insulation materials, to strengthen cement and plastics and roofing. Shipbuilders have used asbestos to insulate boilers and pipes. Automobile manufacturers use asbestos in vehicle brake shoes and clutch pads. In addition, asbestos has been found in vermiculite-containing garden products and some talc-containing crayons.
In the late 1970s, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) banned the use of asbestos in wallboard patching compounds and gas fireplaces. In 1989, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned all new uses of asbestos; however, uses developed before 1989 are still allowed. In June 2000, the CPSC determined that the asbestos fibers in talc containing crayons presented an extremely low risk to children. However, in spite of these findings, U.S. manufacturers of talc containing crayons voluntarily agreed to eliminate talc from their products.
In August 2000, the EPA conducted a series of tests to evaluate the risk to consumers that are exposed to asbestos from the use of gardening products that contain vermiculite. The EPA concluded that exposure to asbestos from some vermiculite products has only a minimal health risk to the public. They do recommend that consumers use vermiculite outdoors or in a well-ventilated area, keep vermiculite damp while using it, avoid bringing dust from vermiculite into the home on clothing, and use premixed potting soil.
In May 2008, a legislative bill, known as H.R. 3339, “issued a proposal to ban the use of all asbestos and increase federal funding for research of treatments to fight against asbestos related illnesses or conditions.”
Asbestos has been classified as a known carcinogen by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the EPA, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Most health risk from asbestos exposure comes from repeated or long term exposure to asbestos containing products. However, asbestos related diseases have been diagnosed in patients with only brief exposure to asbestos. Overall evidence indicates that there may be no safe level of asbestos exposure.
OSHA has recently updated a valuable fact sheet about asbestos. You can find more about the OSHA fact sheet here.
Asbestos Related Diseases
The most dangerous asbestos fibers are too small to be visible to the naked eye. If these fibers are inhaled, they can remain and accumulate in the lungs. Asbestos can cause lung cancer, mesothelioma -a cancer of the lining of the chest and the abdominal lining, and asbestosis – irreversible lung scarring that can be fatal.
Symptoms of these diseases typically do not show up until years and even decades after exposure. It is very important to contact your doctor or healthcare provider if you may have been exposed to asbestos and develop any of the following symptoms:
- Shortness of breath, wheezing, or hoarseness.
- A persistent cough that gets worse over time.
- Blood in the sputum (fluid) coughed up from the lungs.
- Pain or tightening in the chest.
- Difficulty swallowing.
- Swelling of the neck or face.
- Loss of appetite.
- Weight loss.
- Fatigue or anemia.
The only way to contract asbestosis or mesothelioma is from breathing in asbestos fibers over a long period of time. These types of lung diseases are not caused by smoking but only from exposure to asbestos. However, smoking can increase these risks and it is advised that if you have been exposed to asbestos, you should not smoke.
Stages of Mesothelioma
Stage I – the cancer is confined to specific areas of the body, has not spread, and can sometimes be removed surgically or through other procedures.
Stages II and III – the cancer has advanced and unlikely to be cured. Treatment options during these stages of mesothelioma concentrate on relieving painful symptoms normally associated with mesothelioma cancer.
Stage IV – the cancer has spread to other tissues or organs of the body and a cure is not possible. Surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy may be used to diminish painful symptoms at this stage of mesothelioma cancer. Though a cure is not expected, diligent treatment procedures have been known to extend a patient’s life by several months.
If you have been exposed to the dangers of asbestos, it is important to seek out an accomplished asbestos lawsuits attorney. Our attorneys at D. Miller & Associates have a reputation of obtaining fair settlements on behalf of our clients.
Many Americans were exposed to asbestos and were not aware of the deadly nature of their work. Men and women that worked in the automotive industry, construction and manufacturing are suffering from asbestos related cancers and diseases. Their lives are being cut short and their families robbed of financial security and comfort. All because they were exposed to asbestos on a daily basis and were unaware of the lethal dangers. These illnesses were totally avoidable and cause many deaths everyday in the U.S.
It is time to take a stand on this important issue. Don’t let those that profited from your hard work while hiding the dangers of the deadly asbestos dust you were exposed to go without answering to you and your family. The asbestos lawyers at D. Miller & Associates, PLLC will help you determine whether or not you have a case. You may be entitled to demand financial security. Contact us now and receive the help you deserve, access to medical care and dignity and help for your family’s future.