At NPN LAW We Have Witnessed the Devastating Effects
Mesothelioma Can Have on a Patient & Loved Ones
Almost always fatal, mesothelioma—always caused by exposure to asbestos—could have been entirely preventable. Asbestos companies knew for decades that their products could cause disease but they concealed the risks, putting millions at risk for developing mesothelioma and other diseases.
Many times asbestos exposure comes from the workplace or from living in slum conditions for many years. At NPN LAW we are notorious for holding slumlords responsible for their failure to cure dangerous conditions and the damages that this can cause.
Signs & Symptoms of Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is difficult to diagnose, due to the disease’s long latency period — sometimes, the onset of symptoms can come 50 years after the initial asbestos exposure. Many people don’t get sick until they are retired and have not been exposed to asbestos for many years. Mesothelioma is also difficult to diagnose because its symptoms can resemble common, less severe respiratory illnesses.
The symptoms of mesothelioma include:
- Chest pain and persistent cough
- Shortness of breath and painful breathing
- Loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss
- Fluid accumulation around the lungs
If you have a history of asbestos exposure, any of these symptoms should be reported to your doctor immediately. Your doctor can perform the necessary imaging tests and biopsies. Mesothelioma is incurable, but the earlier it is diagnosed, the more treatment options a patient has.
Asbestos Use in the United States
The asbestos industry has been compared to the tobacco industry in the way it promoted known deadly products by calling into question scientific findings and blocking public health initiatives opposed to them. Asbestos companies and tobacco companies are also linked by the fact that, after years of deceiving the public in order to make huge profits, people got wise to them and began using the legal system to hold these unscrupulous manufactures responsible.
Asbestos claims 12,000-15,000 lives per year in the U.S., including approximately 3,000 per year due to mesothelioma. Some of this damage is compounded by medical errors, which could greatly affect you.
It may come as a shock to learn that asbestos is still not banned in the United States despite overwhelming evidence of its dangers. While some types of products have been outlawed, large amounts of raw asbestos and asbestos products are still imported annually. Legislation that would have banned asbestos entirely was blocked by the asbestos industry and these same corporate interests continue to fight against regulations today, which would compensate victims for the injuries they suffered, with the only benefit going to the pockets of the asbestos companies.
Asbestos, a type of naturally occurring mineral fiber, is a useful material because it is fire resistant, a good insulator, and can be incorporated into other materials as a binder and strengthening agent. Indeed, asbestos was once considered a “miracle fiber” due to its seemingly inexhaustible list of uses, from building materials to textiles to personal care products.
Importantly, asbestos is also cheap. Asbestos alternatives were available to manufacturers, but they cost more and using them would have increased production costs. The need for cheap materials still drives the asbestos trade in countries such as Brazil, China, and India, and for years, it drove the U.S. asbestos trade.
In the United States asbestos has been used since the 1800s, initially in steam engines and later in thousands of products. Although popular with the military and private industry by the 1930s, asbestos use really took off during World War II, a period when hundreds of pounds of asbestos were imported daily and the mineral fiber was used in virtually every ship the U.S. Navy commissioned, as well as jeeps and other vehicles, military barracks and buildings, and much more. The military’s widespread use of asbestos explains why veterans account for nearly 1 out 3 mesothelioma deaths.
By the 1970s asbestos usage had peaked and federal bans on asbestos took many products out of circulation. Yet even though many uses of asbestos and asbestos products are no longer permitted, the 20-50 year latency period of asbestos disease means that many people exposed to the substance decades ago are only now getting sick. It also means that many older buildings and products still contain asbestos and present an ongoing exposure risk.
The U.S. epidemic of asbestos disease could have been prevented had asbestos companies been forthcoming about asbestos health hazards. Evidence emerged as early as the 1920s that asbestos was sickening and killing workers, and internal documents from the 1940s show that the asbestos industry knew its products were deadly. They did not act on this knowledge to protect workers, however, ensuring that future generations would continue to fall ill from asbestos.
Industries and Occupations With High Asbestos Exposure Rates
Around 3,000-5,000 known products contain asbestos. Asbestos is most dangerous when it is disturbed and its fibers become airborne, where they can be inhaled in or ingested. Those who worked with and around asbestos products were likely exposed during cutting, tearing, sawing, drilling, sanding, or scraping of these products, or from raw asbestos used in manufacturing. And since asbestos becomes brittle as it ages, older asbestos products might produce dust and fibers if they are merely handled. There is no safe level of asbestos exposure.
Nowadays, asbestos removal professionals wear heavy duty respirators and air tight suits when handling asbestos. Prior to the 1980s, when the dangers of asbestos weren’t know to the public, most workers had no gear to protect them from asbestos fibers. Many were exposed to asbestos on a daily basis, completely unaware that the seeds of mesothelioma were being sown.
The prevalence of asbestos products leads to the uncomfortable conclusion that most Americans have encountered asbestos at some point, although not in amounts sufficient to cause disease. Pre-1980, however, certain industries, including the following, repeatedly exposed people to high amounts of asbestos:
- Shipbuilding and repair
- Asbestos mining and milling
- Power plants
- Textile manufacturing
- Glass manufacturing
- Electronics manufacturing
- Chemical manufacturing
- Metal manufacturing
- Aerospace manufacturing
- Automotive manufacturing
- Pharmaceutical manufacturing
- Automobile repair
- Paper and pulp manufacturing
- Food processing
Individual occupations with a high incidence of asbestos exposure include:
- Insulation workers
- Drywall workers
- Cement workers
- Motor vehicle and aircraft mechanics
- Maintenance mechanics
- Navy yard workers
Many people exposed to asbestos decades ago are only now being diagnosed with mesothelioma and wondering where to turn for help. If you have been exposed to asbestos, contact NPN Law to discuss how we can help you.
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