Asbestos has been used in the United States as an insulation material since the mid- to late 19th century. Although asbestos manufacture was banned in 1978, the significant dangers of the material had been noted for about 60 years. Even after the ban, asbestos was used in the acoustic ceilings of houses and other buildings until about 1986, when the existing stock was depleted.
What Is the Danger of Asbestos Exposure?
Tiny asbestos fibers are inhaled or swallowed. They lodge in the mesothelium—a thin layer of tissue covering most of the internal organs. Over 20 to 50 years, according to the Mesothelioma Center, the asbestos fibers cause biological changes in the tissue that result in inflammation, scarring, and genetic damage. These changes disrupt organ function and lead to malignant mesothelioma, or mesothelioma cancer. Short-term, heavy exposure to asbestos can also cause this condition.
How Are People Exposed to Asbestos?
Asbestos generally does not pose a threat to people living in structures that were built using asbestos; however, when repairs or remodeling require drilling, this shreds the fibers, sending them into the air and putting at risk whoever is in the vicinity. Although workers are usually well-protected, other people nearby probably are not. They are at risk of ingesting asbestos fibers, as is anyone who lives with a worker exposed to asbestos.
Obviously, workers who were involved in manufacturing products containing asbestos were at risk for mesothelioma. Places where people were likely exposed to asbestos include the following:
- naval ships, including aircraft carriers, battleships, destroyers, submarines, and warships;
- military bases;
- power plants;
- steel mills;
- auto production facilities; and
- large construction sites.
Some occupations that put workers at risk of asbestos exposure include
- mechanics; and
Facts About Mesothelioma
Malignant mesothelioma is a rare, aggressive, and fatal form of cancer. When diagnosed early, the cancer may be operable; but most cases are caught in the advanced stages, and the only treatments are those that treat symptoms and make the patient as comfortable as possible during the time they have left.
Three types of mesothelioma have been identified:
- pleural—the most common form, which affects the lining of the lungs;
- peritoneal—which occurs in the abdominal lining; and
- pericardial—which affects the lining of the heart.
When a physician suspects mesothelioma, the first test that is run is usually a chest X-ray. If the X-ray reveals an abnormal growth, the patient will undergo a PET scan, CT scan, or MRI, all of which provide more detailed imaging.
If your loved one in Kentucky died from being exposed to asbestos fibers, or from any other situation for which another person or organization was responsible, contact a wrongful death attorney in Louisville. Call Gray and White Law at 502-210-8942 or toll free at 888-450-4456 to set up a FREE, no-obligation consultation.