Exposure to asbestos is the primary cause of mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive cancer with no definitive cure. The risk factors for that exposure can be occupational, environmental or secondhand.
Companies during the 20th century did not know about mesothelioma. They couldn’t figure out why workers were getting sick. It took decades of investigation before researchers figured out the cause was from asbestos. The microscopic fibers can lead to the development of mesothelioma. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reconfirmed asbestos exposure as the leading cause of mesothelioma. The agency also explained that it doesn’t matter the fiber length of asbestos, it is still cancerous to humans.
Mesothelioma Occupational Risks
Factors that increase the risk of mesothelioma from asbestos exposure include:
- Working at an asbestos mine or processing plant
- Working in a high-risk occupational setting, such as the construction or automotive industries
- Serving on military ships or facilities built with products containing asbestos
- Living in a residential area near an asbestos mine
- Home renovation with asbestos
Besides the occupational risks which make mesothelioma exposure more prevalent there are other factors that could increase your risk.
Exposure to Mineral Fibers
Studies linked the mineral called zeolite to increased mesothelioma development.
In some cases, the risk for mesothelioma increases after a person receives radiation therapy as a treatment for other cancers.
Researchers discovered a genetic mutation could play a part in increasing one’s risk of developing mesothelioma.
Age and Gender
Men older than 45 are more susceptible to mesothelioma. Males are more common to have worked in the professions with asbestos.
Locations of Asbestos Exposure
Asbestos once filled countless U.S. homes and businesses in the form of insulation and heat-protecting materials. Throughout the construction boom following WWII, asbestos was a key element in thousands of industrial and household products, including drywall, wiring, glues and adhesives, ceiling tiles, cement and shingles.
Some of these asbestos products remain in old structures. They are harmless if not disturbed. Asbestos injured workers while on the job.
When the asbestos industry was booming, families of workers were at great risk. Workers often came home with asbestos fibers in their hair, work clothes, and tools. This exposed family members to the toxic substance and increasing their risk for related diseases.
The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) presented a Workers’ Home Contamination Study to Congress that showed “families of asbestos-exposed workers have been at increased risk of pleural, pericardial or peritoneal mesothelioma, lung cancer, cancer of the gastrointestinal tract, and nonmalignant pleural and parenchymal abnormalities as well as asbestosis.”
Occupations that are at high risk for exposure in older buildings include firefighters, contractors, demolition workers, electricians, and plumbers.
Asbestos Occupational Exposure
The risk for asbestos-related illnesses is highest for people who worked directly with the raw mineral or with asbestos-containing products on a daily basis. Some of the most prevalent occurrences of asbestos exposure that cause mesothelioma include:
- Shipyard Workers
- Construction Workers
- Power Plant Workers
- Chemical Plant Workers
- Industrial Workers
- Boiler Workers
- Auto Mechanics
Millions of Veterans Exposed to Asbestos
Studies have shown that the toxic material, asbestos affected millions of veterans as part of their everyday military service. Builders used the deadly material to build military facilities and ships and regular maintenance of military vehicles. In fact, the military users over 300 products with asbestos, because of their fire-retardant properties. Common asbestos-containing products included cement, flooring products, insulation, steam pipes, hot water pipes, gaskets, brakes and clutches and boilers, turbines, and generators.
Asbestos exposure happened to other members of the military simply by being aboard ships. This was standard practice until the 1960s. In fact, over 30% of veterans who served before 1970 were victims of asbestos exposure. Plus, many inadvertently took asbestos home with them on their clothing. This exposed asbestos to their spouses and children.
Medical Care for Veterans with Mesothelioma Is Lacking
Unfortunately, many veterans are not receiving the medical care or disability benefits they should. There are around 600,000 VA claims for federal benefits pending with the Veterans Administration. These include more than 123,000 disability claims of vets of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Veterans with asbestos-induced mesothelioma are facing the same obstacles.
Asbestos in Schools
Since manufacturers in the 1950s used asbestos in building materials when contractors renovate those buildings the deadly substance is released into the air. This is what occurred in a New Jersey school district. The Pinelands Regional School District in New Jersey closed last month after a massive roof renovation project disturbed asbestos. Authorities found asbestos in an air sampling. This raises concerns not just in New Jersey but also in school districts across the United States.
The government mandates that all school districts must maintain asbestos management plans for each building. In these plans, a school must include the type and location of any asbestos in the building, regular updates on the condition of the asbestos, and, if applicable, when removal happened. Unfortunately, like so many other programs, funding is inadequate. Because of this, enforcement becomes lax and children and staff are vulnerable.
According to a 2014 report by the Institute of Education Services, the average age of public school buildings in the United States is 44 years. Schools like those in New Jersey are over 50 years old. This means that many schools were built in the 1950s. Asbestos construction material was common. From ceiling and floor tiles to mastic, joint compounds, insulation, and cement, the dangerous material was found in hundreds of products and heralded for its strength and ability to withstand heat and chemicals. Those benefits also came with a hefty price tag. Asbestos can cause mesothelioma, rare cancer.
Asbestos & Other Locations
commercial building constructed before the 1980’s in the United States. As a fireproofing material, a worker applied the substance to steel beams and columns during construction of multistory buildings. Because of its strength, materials even added asbestos to concrete, asphalt, vinyl materials in roof shingles, pipes, siding, wallboard, floor tiles, joint compounds, and adhesives. Its heat-resistant qualities made asbestos the perfect thermal insulation. Another material used is acoustical plaster. Walls and ceilings received this spray mixture. In short, it was the miracle material of the building industry.
There are many locations asbestos can be located even a fire station. South Carolina Attorney General charged both the City Administrator Alan Thomas Ammons and Fire Chief Ralph Walton Cooper III with misconduct in office, conspiracy to violate the Pollution Control Act, and violation of the Pollution Control Act.
The charge stems from allowing the use of the Marion Fire Station between February 1 and May 1 of 2017 even though both knew the building had asbestos. In fact, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) inspected the fire station in October 2016 that discovered the asbestos in floor tiles.
DHEC asked the fire chief and city administrator to close the room in question until they removed the asbestos. However, the fire chief and city administrator allowed fire firefighters, volunteers and community members to use the room regardless of the dangerous material in the air. The unknowing inhalation of asbestos fibers can lead to a number of serious respiratory health issues, including asbestosis, lung cancer or mesothelioma.
Asbestos & Off-Road Vehicles
International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health published the study after researchers found almost 80% of the trails used by ORVs in California, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, and Utah, were within 20 miles of substantial asbestos deposits. Almost one-third of the trails are within a mile of those deposits. These trails had naturally occurring asbestos and erionite — an asbestos-like material that occurs in sedimentary rocks of the western United States.
This is not the first time this information has surfaced. In 2008, the Bureau of Land Management issued an emergency closure of a portion of the Clear Creek Recreation Area in California. This is part of the New Idra Formation is. Plus, it contains the largest asbestos deposit in the nation. The US House of Representatives recently passed a bill to reopen the site for ORV use. The bill is currently awaiting approval in the Senate.
Asbestos in Makeup
Claire’s, known for selling accessories and cosmetics targeted to young girls and teenagers, has recalled some of its makeup over asbestos concerns. A Rhode Island mother was concerned about the glitter makeup she bought for her 6-year-old daughter. She decided to send samples for independent testing. When the makeup tested positive for tremolite asbestos, she purchased makeup in other states and tested them as well. They all tested positive for tremolite. Researchers link tremolite to cancer called mesothelioma.
Forming on the protective lining of the lungs and abdomen, malignant mesothelioma is a rare, asbestos-related cancer. Currently, there isn’t a cure. However, there are constant advancements and also new therapies to help improve survival statistics.
Claire’s says it has more than 900 million female customers around the world. It operates more than 2,500 stores in North America and Europe, as well as 1,000 outlets on other continents.
The recalled products include:
- Ultimate Mega Make Up Set, code 71844
- Metallic Hot Pink Glitter 48-Piece Makeup Set, code 76094
- Pink Glitter Cellphone Makeup Compact, code 26556
- Bedazzled Rainbow Heart Makeup Set, code 11767
- Rainbow Bedazzled Star Make Up Set, code 20926
- Rainbow Glitter Heart Shaped Makeup Set, code 97275
- Mint Glitter Make Up Set, code 74769
- Rainbow Bedazzled Rectangle Make Up Set, code 21044
- Pink Glitter Palette with Eyeshadow & Lip Gloss, code 97276
Asbestos Talcum Powder Case
Talcum powder is a soft, white powder developed from talc, or magnesium silicate, a mineral composed primarily of magnesium, silicon, and oxygen. When finely ground, talc absorbs moisture and helps reduce friction. These properties make made it widely used the ingredient in cosmetics, personal hygiene products, and many other common consumer goods.
Recently, many women have come forward claiming that talcum powder caused their ovarian cancer. Now, people have linked the product to mesothelioma. After two months of hearing both sides, the jury found Johnson & Johnson responsible for the plaintiff’s exposure to the asbestos. The jury awarded compensatory damages of $30 million to the man and $7 million to his wife, Kendra, while holding Johnson & Johnson responsible for 70 percent of the damages and its talc supplier, Imerys Talc America Inc., responsible for 30 percent.
Johnson & Johnson argued that testing never showed any asbestos in products or their mines. However, the jury wasn’t buying it. This is only the second asbestos talcum powder trial in the country. The pharmaceutical giant won the first case in November in a California state trial.
Asbestos Exposure in Libby
Corporate giant WR Grace owned an asbestos mine in Libby, Montana. The company knowingly allowed miners and the entire town to breathe deadly asbestos dust. The US government calls it “the worst case of industrial poisoning of a whole community in American history”. Asbestos was everywhere from the air to piles all over the mine and processing plant. WR Grace opened four schools and an ice rink riddled with asbestos materials.
Almost 3,000 people lived in the town. Almost 400 died from asbestos exposure, also more than 1,000 are sick now from the dangerous substance. However, doctors are diagnosing new cases of mesothelioma almost once a week from residents. The scariest part was only half of those with mesothelioma have a connection to the mine. The only 50% had no direct connection whatsoever.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has spent almost $600 million cleaning up commercial and residential properties in Libby and surrounding areas. However, even after Libby, the agencies responsible for asbestos cleanup are still not being careful enough.
U.S. Importing Asbestos
New data from the Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission shows the amount of raw asbestos imported to the U.S. nearly doubled from 2015 to 2016. Even though mining the dangerous material is illegal in the U.S, it still imported asbestos in large amounts. The study estimates that the U.S. imported 705 metric tons of asbestos last year compared to 343 in 2015.
Researchers also note the increase in imported asbestos could be from the newly organized Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Now, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must review the top 10 dangerous chemicals, which asbestos is now on the list. Now under the new legislation, the EPA could perform an extensive review of asbestos. Constituents hope this leads to a comprehensive ban. However, this would take years to complete.
Meanwhile, a number of studies have explored how asbestos causes mesothelioma. In 2012, mesothelioma expert Dr. Michele Carbone, director of thoracic oncology at the University of Hawaii Cancer Center, co-wrote a scientific article detailing multiple ways asbestos may damage the body, including the creation of inflammatory chemicals that cause direct genetic damage.
Generally, it usually takes heavy, long-term exposures to asbestos for related cancer to develop, but even minor exposures can be harmful. Activities that disturb asbestos-containing products release toxic fibers into the air.
Mesothelioma has a dose-response relationship to asbestos, which means higher doses of asbestos exposure lead to a greater risk of developing mesothelioma. When it comes to asbestos, high concentrations of fibers and long durations of exposure amount to a greater risk of developing an asbestos-related disease.
Once inhaled, the body has an especially hard time getting rid of the sharp, sometimes jagged fibers, and they build up in the lungs or abdomen over time. Many years after the first exposure, these fibers may cause cancerous changes.
Cancer starts in mesothelial cells, which comprise the protective membranes that cover the lungs, abdomen, and heart.
Presently, there is not a ban on asbestos. However, U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley introduced a bill called the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act of 2017. This is the sixth attempt at banning the dangerous substance in the past 20 years. Last year, there was an act to formulate a risk review, but this new piece of legislation would speed up that study.
Besides being the first bill to effectively ban asbestos, this bill would also impose stricter restrictions on the dangerous product. Plus, the EPA would need to make it known all the uses and any current exposure sites.
According to a U.S. Geological Survey, companies imported 340 tons of raw asbestos in 2016. In 1973 before the public knew of the danger, the U.S. consumed over 800,000 tons. Roofing and automotive supplies have the highest asbestos levels.
Passing this bill won’t be easy. The Senate needs to pass it before traveling to the House of Representatives. Lastly, the President needs to approve it. Since Senator Merkley, who is proposing the bill is a Democrat, he may not receive bipartisan support.
10,000 people die every year as a result of asbestos exposure. So, a bill like this is imperative to keep people safe.
All in all, treatment is expensive, and insurance companies may not cover the cost everything. If you don’t have medical insurance, treatment can be very difficult. If a doctor diagnosed you or a loved one with Mesothelioma, you may need assistance. It is important to note that companies could have prevented your asbestos-related cancer since these corporations mined, manufactured and sold asbestos products that put profits over the health of you. Our legal system exists to hold these people accountable.
Get Help with a Specialized Complex Litigation Attorney
A Complex Litigation attorney like those found at The Michael Brady Lynch Firm is critical when seeking help to cover your asbestos-related expenses. Identifying when and where you were exposed to asbestos is crucial to your lawsuit. Experienced lawyers are familiar with companies that used asbestos and know which job sites had a significant amount of asbestos use. Also, they know which products contained high concentrations of the toxic mineral.
Also, consultations are completely free, confidential and have no obligation. The Michael Brady Lynch Firm has successfully represented thousands of consumers and recovered millions of dollars for their clients. Our team of attorneys has been recognized as some of the most experienced and successful in the country. Our award-winning staff is also sought after for our knowledge on complex litigation, scientific evidence development, negotiation strategies and trial tactics.
Most of all, our law office is resourceful and dedicated to pursuing any compensation you are due. Because of this, we have also received a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement, such as inclusion on numerous Plaintiff Steering Committees. In fact, we will take whatever legal measures are necessary when fighting for your rights to damages.