June 26, 2020
The makers or users of asbestos products can be liable when people develop mesothelioma or other forms of cancer from asbestos exposure. Experts say that public health organizations across the globe failed to protect the public, allowing cancers from asbestos exposure to claim millions of lives.
Since the 1970s, companies that mine, process, and distribute asbestos or make products containing asbestos have been the subjects of a multitude of lawsuits from people harmed by this substance. By the year 1991, legal experts estimate that there were 115,000 personal injury cases pending in state and federal courts across America for asbestos exposure injuries.
Mesothelioma and other asbestos cancer lawsuits continue to get filed today because it takes decades for these deadly diseases to develop after asbestos exposure. Also, people still get exposed to asbestos today.
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that tends to target the outer layers or linings of internal organs in the abdomen and chest. Asbestos exposure on the job is the most common cause of mesothelioma. Additional potential risk factors of asbestos exposure and cancer include living near an asbestos mine or factory and living with a family member who experiences asbestos exposure in the workplace.
It can take 20 to 60 years or even more for mesothelioma to develop. You cannot escape the risk from exposure by the passage of time. With some other forms of cancer, like lung cancer, a person can reduce some of the chance of developing cancer by stopping smoking, for example. Once exposed to asbestos, however, the risk of mesothelioma does not decrease.
The link between asbestos and cancer risk has long been established. Exposure to asbestos can cause other forms of cancer in addition to mesothelioma. The American Cancer Society reports that people exposed to asbestos on the job face:
Asbestos exposure can also cause scar tissue, fluid buildup, and other conditions in the lungs that make it difficult to breathe.
Asbestos used to be much more widely used in construction, roofing, shipbuilding, car parts, and many other products and industries than it is today. Asbestos was a popular insulation and fireproofing material for many years.
People started to notice in the early 1900s that people who breathed asbestos on the job tended to develop lung scarring. Few laws protected people who got harmed by dangerous products then, so little changed about the use of asbestos.
After 1950, the medical community realized that asbestos could cause cancer. It became illegal for construction companies to use asbestos when constructing houses and other buildings. Also, laws prohibited the use of asbestos for insulation and many other products.
Although new construction cannot use asbestos, the law does not require people to remove existing asbestos from buildings. When an older house, school, or factory gets renovated, workers and people who live, work, or attend school in those buildings can get exposed to asbestos.
Specialized asbestos abatement professionals should remove asbestos when the substance is detected in a building undergoing renovation. Left undisturbed, existing asbestos under layers of other materials is not supposed to be dangerous. Old asbestos can harm people, however, when the substance is in water pipes or on the surface.
Asbestos used to be a popular material in home siding and roof shingles. If a person comes into contact with those items, there could be unwanted health consequences. Also, if a worker gets exposed to asbestos on the job, the asbestos fibers can stay on the worker’s clothing and end up in the family home, harming other members of the household. A high number of American workers still get exposed to asbestos in the workplace.
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