Asbestos and Mesothelioma: What You Need to Know
What is Asbestos?
The United States Environmental Protection Agency defines asbestos as a mineral fiber that occurs in rock and soil. Its fibers are resistant to heat, fire and chemicals and do not conduct electricity. Because of this, asbestos has been mined and used widely in construction, automotive and other industries. It was widely used in manufacturing and construction through the mid-1970s. Its use continued in asbestos cement products, automotive brakes, and gaskets into the 1990s until it was found that asbestos can be dangerous, causing serious diseases like mesothelioma.
What is Mesothelioma?
Each year about 3,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma. Malignant mesothelioma is a type of cancer usually associated with exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma tumors occur in the thin membranes that line the lungs, abdomen or heart. A diagnosis of mesothelioma is very serious. Although many cases are fatal within two years, early diagnosis and proper treatment can often lead to a good prognosis and extended survival.
Symptoms of mesothelioma include shortness of breath, a chronic cough, chest and back pain, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping, and weight loss. Other symptoms may include weakness, abdominal pain, and nausea. Mesothelioma can occur as the result of very low levels of exposure to asbestos fibers. It often takes several decades for signs of the disease to surface. The only known cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos.
Where is Asbestos Found?
Due to its fiber strength and heat resistance, asbestos has been used in a variety of building construction materials for insulation and as a fire retardant. However, it has also been used in a wide range of manufactured goods including building materials such as roofing shingles, ceiling and floor tile, paper products and asbestos cement products, as well as automobile parts such as brakes and transmission parts, and heat-resistant fabrics, packaging, gaskets and coatings.
Due to product liability, Asbestos has been banned in certain products in the U.S. including corrugated paper, roll board, commercial paper, specialty paper and flooring felt, and has also been banned for certain uses including pipe insulation, block insulation on facility component, spray-applied surfacing asbestos-containing materials and spray-on application of materials containing more than 1% asbestos to buildings, structures, pipes and conduits unless certain conditions are met.
Asbestos has NOT been banned in the following products:
- Cement corrugated sheet
- Cement flat sheet
- Pipeline wrap
- Roofing felt
- Vinyl floor tile
- Cement shingle
- Cement pipe
- Automatic transmission components
- Clutch facings
- Friction materials
- Disk brake pads
- Drum brake linings
- Brake blocks
- Non-roofing coatings
- Roof coatings
How is One Exposed to Asbestos?
Asbestos is known as a silent killer. It is invisible, microscopic, tasteless, and odorless. Therefore, thousands of unsuspecting workers and their families have been exposed to asbestos throughout the years without knowing. In fact, from 1940 through 1970, approximately 27.5 million people were potentially exposed to asbestos at work. This number is not surprising when one considers that by one estimate, ½ billion square feet of asbestos-containing insulation can be found in 190,000 buildings in the U.S. alone. It has also been estimated that the number of workers exposed through asbestos brake and clutch work is approximately 900,000.
If you have received a mesothelioma diagnosis, or lost a loved one from this disease, call the Phoenix injury attorneys atKnapp & Roberts today at (480) 991-7677 for a free consultation with an experienced trial lawyer or complete the Do I Have a Case form on our website and a skilled Phoenix asbestos injury lawyer will contact you.
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