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Mesothelioma is a rare disease – only about 3,000 cases are diagnosed each year. But if you’re one of those people, it can be devastating, partly because it could have likely been prevented.
The leading cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure. Usually, that exposure happened at work, and many employers knew about the risks but chose not to inform or protect their employees. That’s why there’s so much mesothelioma litigation – those companies are now being held responsible.
Asbestos exposure in your past can be damaging to your future. You may end up with mounting medical bills, decreased income, and overwhelming suffering. It’s an unfair situation, but compensation can do a lot to help you cope. Whether it means filing a lawsuit or obtaining funds from a mesothelioma bankruptcy trust, we are ready to help you get as much compensation as possible.
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer found in the mesothelium, the layer of tissue that covers most internal organs. It most frequently occurs in the lining of the lungs or abdominal cavity, but in less common cases, it may be found in the testicles or heart.
The primary cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure, a mineral made of heat-resistant fibers. Not surprisingly, asbestos was wildly popular before the 1980s, as its heat resistance made it desirable for many industrial uses. It was added to many products to make them less flammable and used extensively in the construction industry.
In the 1970s, years of research finally led the US Consumer Product Safety Commission to ban many uses of asbestos based on its link to certain cancers, asbestosis, and other diseases. By the late 1980s, the EPA had strengthened these protections and banned the use of asbestos in any new materials. They simultaneously ordered an inspection of schools, and removal of any asbestos found there. However, other commercial buildings and homes erected before the 1980s may still contain insulation and other components made with asbestos.
Because asbestos is made up of fibers, these can quickly get into the air, where a person may inhale them. These fibers then land in tissues like the mesothelium and become trapped there. With repeated exposure, the fibers may build up, leading to scarring (asbestosis), DNA damage, and inflammation. These issues often lead to cancer, even twenty or thirty years after exposure.
Asbestos exposure has what is called a “latency period.” It doesn’t usually cause cancer quickly, but the fibers stay in the bodily tissues, causing inflammation. Often cancer develops twenty or more years after the first exposure. Cancer risk is dose-dependent, so someone exposed to the mineral briefly during their home renovation twenty years ago is less at risk than someone who has spent years around asbestos at work.
In the past, many people suffered secondhand asbestos exposure if a spouse or parent worked with the mineral. For example, people who worked in construction might come home with asbestos fibers all over their clothes. If they hugged their spouse or children, they could have transferred those fibers to their family members.
Many people were exposed to asbestos in their jobs, either previously or, in some cases, currently. For example, construction or home renovation workers may be exposed to asbestos while working on older houses built before the ban.
OSHA has specific regulations for safe levels of asbestos exposure and precautions that employers must take when the amount of asbestos in the air exceeds certain levels. For example, employees should be provided with PPE while they are working with any materials that may contain asbestos. There must also be separate lunch and break facilities, as no one is allowed to eat, drink, or smoke in areas with higher levels of asbestos. Workplaces must also warn workers of the risks of exposure, provide training on using the proper precautions, and keep detailed records of exposure. If your employer failed to do these things, they may be liable for your exposure to a dangerous substance.
Please note that if you believe your employer is currently failing to meet standards for asbestos protection, you have a right to file an anonymous complaint with OSHA. For more information about asbestos and your right to safety in the workplace, see this OSHA fact sheet.
If you’ve been exposed to asbestos or diagnosed with mesothelioma, don’t hesitate to contact our mesothelioma law firm. We are ready to talk to you about your options and legal rights. You’ll talk directly to one of our lawyers, consultation is free, and there’s no obligation. Contact us online or call 314-888-1000 to talk with an attorney.