Asbestos Exposure

As a person’s exposure to asbestos fibers increases, either by breathing more fibers or by breathing fibers for a longer time, that person’s risk of mesothelioma also increases

Unfortunately, because asbestos was used so abundantly in both industrial and consumer products there are many opportunities for asbestos exposure. Most people that develop asbestos cancer and other asbestos diseases, including mesothelioma and asbestosis, usually have a history of chronic exposure to asbestos.

Mesothelioma is somewhat unique in this respect, as mesothelioma cases have developed in people with limited asbestos exposure. As a result, there is no established “safe” level of asbestos exposure.

Workers are exposed to asbestos when the substance or products containing asbestos are cut, crushed, sanded, drilled or otherwise disturbed. When left undisturbed, asbestos-containing materials can be relatively safe. In cases where asbestos materials are mined, installed, removed, demolished, or serviced, exposure can be a risk unless strict asbestos abatement techniques are employed.

When inhaled, microscopic asbestos fibers can make it past the body’s natural defenses and deep into the lungs causing asbestos disease. Once within the lungs, the fibers can irritate lung tissue leading to asbestos cancer. If asbestos fibers make their way to the alveoli or air sacs in the lungs where oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange takes place, they can cause irritation and scarring called asbestosis. Asbestos fibers that pass through the alveoli and into the pleural mesothelium, can eventually lead to asbestos cancer in the form of tumors and malignant mesothelioma.

Occupational Asbestos Exposure

Many people are exposed to asbestos at work. The following are some of the occupational environments that may increase an individual’s asbestos exposure risk:

  • Construction sites
  • Asbestos product manufacturing sites
  • Oil refineries
  • Mines
  • Shipyards
  • Steel mills
  • Power plants
  • Automotive manufacturing facilities
  • Offshore rust removal sites
  • Railroads
  • Maritime operation sites
  • Demolition sites

Non-occupational Asbestos Exposure

Not all asbestos exposure occurs in the workplace. The following are a few non-occupational asbestos exposure risks:

  • Asbestos-contaminated drinking water
  • Asbestos products including talc and various older appliances
  • Vermiculite-containing garden products such as certain fertilizers and pesticides

Paraoccupational Secondary Asbestos Exposure

Another form of asbestos exposure is called paraoccupational secondary exposure and occurs when an individual is exposed to asbestos through a family member who works around the dangerous fibers. Workers heavily exposed to asbestos may bring the hazardous fibers into the home on their shoes, clothing, skin, and hair. Family members or others who live in the same home face an increased asbestos exposure risk.

Secondary asbestos exposure, like occupational exposure, may not manifest symptoms for as many as 20-40 years after exposure. For this reason, even if you never personally worked around asbestos, it is important to tell your doctor and your attorney if you were in close daily contact with someone who did, and if you handled their clothing or other materials brought from their workplace. This secondary asbestos exposure puts you at risk of developing mesothelioma.

In May 2007, the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), dedicated to serving as the voice of asbestos victims, announced that an increasing number of patients suffering from asbestos-related diseases are now younger than in previous reports. Case reports from the past three years reveal a new median age of 51 and nearly fifty percent of those are women.

Anecdotal evidence suggests a changing profile of newly diagnosed patients, many of whom are under 40 years old, nearly forty percent of which have never worked with asbestos, but have environmental exposure.

The ADAO reports the occurrence of asbestos-related diseases, including mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis, is growing out of control. Studies estimate that during the next decade, 100,000 victims in the United States will die of an asbestos related disease – equaling 30 deaths per day.

If you have a heightened asbestos exposure risk, you may wish to consult with a physician experienced in the evaluation and management of asbestos-related diseases.

Legal Options

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, or if you are experiencing the symptoms associated with mesothelioma, you may have a claim against the manufacturers of these asbestos products.

Please contact us today by filling out the brief questionnaire, or by calling our toll free number (1-800-898-2034) for a free, no-cost, no-obligation legal evaluation of your case.