Thousands of People Were Exposed to Asbestos Across the United States
Officials with the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have said that no toxic substance has had a more harmful effect on public health than asbestos.
From the miners who quarried the mineral to the manufacturers who passed their products to the consumer, millions have run the risk of asbestos exposure. From 1940 to 1970, approximately 27.5 million people were potentially exposed to asbestos at work. In many cases, companies intentionally withheld the dangers of asbestos from unsuspecting workers.
Hardly anyone working at a manufacturing job was safe from exposure. Their families weren’t safe either. Employees have brought asbestos-contaminated clothing from the workplace into the family home, exposing family members to asbestos.
Because of asbestos’ qualities as an insulator, many different people employed in the manufacturing industry risked exposure just going to work every day, whether they were handling the asbestos directly or happened to be working near asbestos-containing products. According to the Asbestos Information Association, there are more than 3,000 household and commercial products that contain asbestos. About 1.2 billion square feet of asbestos insulation can be found in hundreds of thousands of buildings in the United States.
Residents who live near mining, milling and manufacturers also run the risk of chrysotile asbestos exposure. According to some estimates, fibers released from construction sites have resulted in environmental asbestos levels approximately 100 times greater than the levels that naturally occur in the environment.
Because of its high resistance to heat, fire and corrosion, asbestos-containing products were commonly used aboard many Navy ships through the 1970s. Sadly, this has led to a disproportionately high number of mesothelioma diagnoses in Navy and other military veterans. Even Navy Adm. Elmo Zumwalt, Chief of U.S. Naval Operations in the 1970s (who was represented by our mesothelioma lawyers), was felled by mesothelioma due to his exposure to asbestos while serving in the Navy.
Asbestos Exposure in the Workplace
When asbestos products are used, fibers can be released into the air, which exposes workers in close proximity to the carcinogen. Asbestos dust is so fine that, in most cases, it can only be seen through a microscope. Many workers breathed in asbestos dust for years without knowing it, causing harmful and often deadly consequences. Because of the airborne nature of asbestos dust, workers did not have to be in direct contact with asbestos materials to become exposed. Baron and Budd has represented many clients who developed mesothelioma by merely being present on job sites where asbestos was being used. Furthermore, asbestos fibers were carried off the job site on a worker’s clothes, shoes and hair, and created a cancer hazard at home for a worker’s family.
When asbestos dust is inhaled, or ingested, it has the potential to cause asbestos diseases such as mesothelioma. Asbestos disease has an incubation period that could stretch for decades and is often difficult to detect. Those who suffer from mesothelioma are often unable to detect the disease until it is in the advanced stages and is difficult to treat.
Trades Working with Asbestos
Working with asbestos has placed tradesmen at risk for developing asbestos-related diseases, including mesothelioma. Here is a partial list of trades likely to have a high number of asbestos disease cases
- Asbestos workers
- Insulation workers
- Automobile mechanics
- Shipyard workers
- Sailors on seagoing vessels and in dry dock
- Maintenance employees
- Chemical and petroleum workers
- Locomotive repairmen
- Stationary engineers
- Stationary firemen
- Power station operators
- Electric and gas utility workers
- Fabricated plate workers
- Paper mill workers
- Construction contractors
- Concrete workers
- Steel erectors
- Pipe fitters
- Oil field workers
- Steel workers
- Drywall finishers
- Iron workers
- Floor coverers
- Pot tenders
Common Job Sites of Asbestos Exposure
Asbestos exposure is particularly heavy at certain job sites. Here is a partial list:
- Chemical plants
- Power plants
- Roofing manufacturing plants
- Metal fabrication sites
- Oil refineries
- Plastic manufacturing plants
- Gasket manufacturing plants
- Steel mills
- Boiler Rooms
- Fire Fighting
- Manufacturing plants
- Commercial construction sites
- Residential construction sites
- Paper mills
- Oil fields
- Navy shipyards
Second-Hand Asbestos Exposure
Asbestos cancer can be very perplexing to some people who don’t remember ever working in an environment where asbestos was used. Often people will not pursue a mesothelioma lawsuit because they do not know how they could have been exposed. These people often feel that they do not have a case because they cannot remember how or when they were exposed to asbestos. However, since mesothelioma is only caused by asbestos, these people must have had exposure to asbestos at some point. Therefore, they have a right to compensation from the asbestos industry and Baron & Budd is here to help.
Many people are surprised to find that their mesothelioma was the cause of second-hand exposure. Workers who handled asbestos products would often carry the microscopic fibers on their hair, shoes and clothes into their household. There have been many cases where a woman was exposed to asbestos by washing her husband’s work clothes. Children were also exposed; even a simple hug with the child’s father after he returned from work could later cause mesothelioma or asbestos cancer in the child.
The Asbestos Industry is to Blame for Your Mesothelioma
Baron & Budd has obtained numerous documents from the asbestos industry going back to the early 1900s. For years, the asbestos industry knew that their products were causing cancer, yet they deliberately avoided using words such as “carcinogen” or “cancerous” on the warning labels. Many companies conducted internal health studies where the deadly effects of their products were proven, but chose to hide the results from the public and continued profiting from their asbestos products.
Contact an Attorney for Exposure to Asbestos
For more than 35 years, Baron & Budd has been fighting the asbestos companies that are responsible for causing mesothelioma and other asbestos diseases. The asbestos claim division of our law firm has collected a wealth of proof, demonstrating that the asbestos companies were fully aware of the effects that asbestos exposure had on their workers and, therefore, are at fault for their workers’ cancer. Our lawyers for mesothelioma claims can review your case and see if you are eligible to file a lawsuit against the company responsible for your exposure.
- Occupational Exposure to Asbestos, 51 Fed. Reg. 22,615 (June 20, 1986)
- William J. Nicholson, “Occupational Exposure to Asbestos: Population at Risk and Projected Mortality – 1980-2030”.
- 3 AM. J. IND. MED. 259, 306 (1982); Pathology of Asbestos-Related Diseases (Victor L. Roggli et al. eds., 2004).
Answers to Common Questions About Asbestos Exposure
There is no exact number of times that one needs to be exposed to asbestos before they could develop mesothelioma. However, research shows that prolonged or consistent exposure to asbestos may lead to mesothelioma.
Studies show that people exposed to asbestos for a number of years on a consistent basis are much more likely to develop mesothelioma than those who were only exposed occasionally. But there is no “safe” amount of exposure to asbestos. Even a small amount of asbestos can result in the development of the disease.
Exposure Factors Leading to a Mesothelioma Diagnosis
Asbestos has long been recognized as a human carcinogen by numerous organizations including the EPA, but medical professionals and patients alike have tried to crack the magic exposure formula. There is no exact rate or exposure interval that sentences someone to mesothelioma. Some of the most significant factors that may lead to a diagnosis include:
How Often Exposure Occurs
- Level of Asbestos Concentration
- Type of Asbestos Fibers
- Underlying Health Conditions
Prolonged exposure to high concentrations of asbestos increases the likelihood of developing mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis. The consistency of exposure can play a causative role in the development of mesothelioma. In some cases, mesothelioma victims have been exposed to asbestos for only a brief period of time. Other people who were exposed to low levels of asbestos consistently over the course of many years may also develop the disease. Multiple factors, such as the type of asbestos involved, also affect one’s chances of being diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness.
Higher Concentration Levels & Duration of Exposure Increase Mesothelioma Risk
It is logical that exposure to higher concentrations of asbestos increases the risk of developing mesothelioma, as the body will have a larger number of inhaled particles or ingested fibers to attempt to deal with. Asbestos fibers are notoriously difficult for the body to remove. The problem only gets worse as concentration increases. Longer durations of exposure lead to similar situations. The body simply reaches a point where it can no longer process the number of asbestos fibers which have become embedded within the tissues of the lungs and other organs. Once these asbestos particles irritate the tissue enough, irregular cell replication begins (mesothelioma cancer).
Every person is unique; each body has a different immune system. People with no other risk factors may be able to withstand much more exposure to asbestos without succumbing to a related disease when compared to those who are more vulnerable because of other health conditions or because of a history of smoking.
Can You Get Mesothelioma if Only Exposed to Asbestos Once?
Yes. No amount of exposure to asbestos is considered “safe” and cases of individuals who have developed mesothelioma after only brief exposure to asbestos do exist. An example of short term, high concentration asbestos exposure resulting in mesothelioma is a First Responder who was present at “Ground Zero” during the World Trade Center disaster of 2001.
It is important to take the latency period into account as well. People who were exposed to low levels of asbestos over the course of many years have also developed mesothelioma, but sometimes until 50 or more years after their exposure to asbestos.
Women and children who inhaled second hand asbestos from their husband’s or father’s clothing and hair serve as examples of prolonged exposure to relatively low levels of asbestos fibers.
Additional Risk Factors Involved
While asbestos exposure is involved with 100% of all mesothelioma cases, additional factors impact the chances of developing this deadly form of cancer.
- Type of asbestos the victim was exposed to. All six types of asbestos are carcinogens, but not all are equally potent in triggering mesothelioma. Five of the six types fall within the most toxic amphibole category and are made up of straighter, longer fibers than the most common type of asbestos known as chrysotile. Amphibole fibers have a higher tensile strength, so they tend to remain in human tissue for longer periods of time.
- Reduced lung volume. People with smaller lungs tend to retain a greater percentage of inhaled asbestos fibers, putting them at greater risk of developing mesothelioma. Women and children are generally the most vulnerable, even when exposed to relatively small doses of asbestos.
Does Smoking or Other Pre-Existing Lung Conditions Increase Risk?<.h3>
Surprisingly, smoking cigarettes in conjunction with previous asbestos exposure does not increase the risk of developing specific mesothelioma cancer. However, the combination of smoking and asbestos exposure significantly increases the chances of developing lung cancer and is known to weaken the overall immune system. Asbestos exposure is also known to exacerbate pre-existing lung conditions such as asthma.
Prolonged exposure to asbestos means consistent exposure to or ingestion of substantial amounts of asbestos fibers spanning months or years. In some cases, it is difficult to remember when or how they may have been exposed to asbestos.
How Can it Be Ingested or Inhaled?
Exposure can occur from breathing asbestos in the air; swallowing contaminated food or mucus; or other direct contact with asbestos fibers for a period of time lasting weeks to years. Although most people who develop mesothelioma were exposed to asbestos on the job, victims of prolonged environmental exposure and/or secondary exposure may also be diagnosed with this deadly form of cancer as long as 50 years after the danger of exposure has passed.
Anyone with mesothelioma was undoubtedly exposed to asbestos at some point in their past, yet some are hesitant to file a claim for compensation if they are not aware of when or how the exposure occurred. Even when details of the past are unclear, mesothelioma sufferers are entitled to legal compensation from the party that caused the exposure. This is why you need an experienced mesothelioma lawyer to help you.
Places where prolonged exposure to asbestos occurred frequently include:
- Job Sites: Factories, Assembly Lines, Manufacturing Plants
- Military: Navy Shipyards, Battleships, Aircraft Carriers, Submarines, Barracks
- Environmental Exposure: Ground soil, Water, Air
- Home: Flooring Tiles, Adhesive, Joint Compound, Air Ducts, Insulation
- Secondary Exposure: Parents with Asbestos on Clothes, Skin, Laundry
Prolonged Exposure to Asbestos on the Job
People who worked within any type of manufacturing facility with asbestos or asbestos-containing products likely suffered from prolonged exposure to asbestos. In these situations, asbestos fibers often became airborne during the manufacturing process; the small size of these particles allowed them to remain suspended in the air for hours, posing a risk to all workers within the facility.
Before the 1970’s, minimal safety restrictions were placed on asbestos handling and workers were not required to wear respirators or other protective equipment. As a result, millions of people were exposed to this toxic mineral for eight or more hours per day, five or more days per week, over a period of many years or even decades. Sadly, many workers went home and hugged their children before showering or changing their clothing, exposing them to asbestos on a consistent basis as well.
Environmental Exposure – Continuous Source of Contamination
Residents who lived near active asbestos mines or any facility which utilized asbestos were almost certainly exposed to the material for a prolonged period of time. People in these areas would have been forced to breathe contaminated air every time they opened their windows or stepped outside. Fibers may also have become attached to interior furnishings that would serve as a nearly continual source of asbestos exposure.
In a 2009 study, mesothelioma rates of residents in Egypt who lived close to an asbestos manufacturing facility were compared to individuals who worked within the facility itself. Surprisingly, nearby residents who suffered from the prolonged environmental exposure were more than three times as likely to develop mesothelioma than workers, perhaps because workers were not necessarily exposed to asbestos during non-working hours while residents suffered from nearly continuous exposure.
Mesothelioma Diagnosis Decades After Prolonged Secondary Exposure
Secondary asbestos exposure occurs when someone directly exposed to asbestos at work, with the fibers embedded into their clothing and hair, exposes other people in their home. The most common victims of mesothelioma from second hand exposure were children, wives and other family members.
Women were often exposed for decades while laundering the soiled clothing of someone who worked in an asbestos-containing facility; children may have received a daily dose after greeting their father before he had removed his work clothes. Fibers may have contaminated the family vehicle and/or furniture, serving as another source of prolonged exposure.
Children who were exposed to asbestos for a prolonged period of time have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or other asbestos-related illnesses as long as 50 years later.
Entitlement to Compensation
Even if you do not remember how or when you were exposed to asbestos, if you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it is certain that exposure occurred and was likely of a prolonged nature. Because most manufacturers who utilized asbestos were aware of the associated health risks for decades before the material was highly regulated, those who suffer from an asbestos-related illness are entitled to receive compensation from the responsible organization or organizations via asbestos bankruptcy trust fund, VA claim, lawsuit or sometimes an out-of-court settlement. In some cases victims can receive compensation from multiple types of claims. An experienced attorney can decipher the details of your situation and help discover where, when and how the exposure to asbestos occurred.
Asbestos is not banned in the U.S., it is only restricted. Products that are still manufactured using asbestos as of 2017 include brake pads, electrical insulation, electric circuit boards, some types of adhesive, and fireproof materials. Some of the most common products that contained asbestos before the early 1970’s included:
- Roofing shingles
- High Temperature Thermal Insulation (Pipe & Equipment Insulation)
- High Temperature Insulating Cements
- Industrial Fireproofings
- Fire retardant coatings and building materials
- Automotive parts
- Floor Tile
- Joint compound
- Plaster and Spray Textures
- Talcum Powders for personal hygiene
- Cigarette filters
- Textile clothing
- Electrical panels
- Adhesives & Tapes
- Shipbuilding products
As long as the product contains less than 1 percent asbestos, manufacturers can still use the material in products made in the U.S. Some of the products that still use asbestos include potting soil, residential insulation, roofing shingles, laminate flooring and clutches for manual transmissions. The EPA’s restriction of asbestos-containing products in the USA only includes some types of paper, flooring, felt and rollboard.
On June 22, 2016 President Obama signed the Lautenberg Act that finally gives the Environmental Protection Agency the ability to ban asbestos. The wording of the previous asbestos legislation made it nearly impossible for lawmakers to authorize a ban. However in January of 2017 the EPA Nominee publicly stated that before a ban could occur, asbestos exposure would need further testing to determine if it posed any significant health risks.
What Products Contain Asbestos?
The use of asbestos had become widespread throughout numerous industries during the 20th century. Heat and fire resistance made asbestos a highly desirable additive in construction and automotive products, but the material was also used in small items such as hair dryers and personal products. Widespread knowledge regarding the hazardous nature of this naturally occurring mineral prompted some organizations to minimize or eliminate its use by the end of the 70’s, but the EPA ban did not occur until 1989. Although this asbestos ban was overturned two years later, regulations now restrict the use of asbestos in modern products to no greater than one percent of the total composition.
A Mineral Added to Thousands of Consumer Products
At the peak of its usage during the mid 20th century, asbestos was added to a countless number of consumer products destined for use by the military, the construction and automotive industries as well as for personal use. The following is a partial list of consumer products made with asbestos before the 1970’s:
- Interior construction and building products. Drywall, joint compound, plaster and texture products, insulation, floorboards, floor adhesive, ventilation ducts, paint, and spackle were almost certain to contain asbestos. Tile flooring, drywall, and ceiling panels were also made with asbestos.
- Automotive parts. Gaskets, valves, brake pads and shoes, clutches, hood liners, and electric wiring insulation were manufactured with asbestos.
- Roofing materials and insulation. Shingles were more fire resistant with the addition of asbestos, as was insulation and other building materials.
- Shipbuilding materials. Various items destined for commercial or military ships and submarines were formulated with the addition of asbestos including gaskets, paint, insulation, wall board, ventilation, pipes, air ducts, and many boiler room components.
- Electrical, plumbing and HVAC supplies. Electrical panels, gaskets, ductwork and more were considered safer when made with asbestos because it made them fire resistant. They are not.
- Textiles, vinyl and plastics. Many textile cloths and garments, particularly those used by firefighters and others working in proximity to heat, contained dangerous amounts of asbestos.
- Household appliances. Many older appliances, from coffee pots to toasters and even portable dishwashers, have asbestos within their hard covers.
- Personal products. Asbestos was added to items such as cigarette filters and hair dryers while the material was at peak use.
- Brake pads and clutches for manual transmissions. The automotive industry still uses asbestos, albeit in much smaller quantities than in days past.
- Potting soil. Vermiculite used in many potting soil mixes is known to contain small amounts of asbestos.
- Construction materials. Insulation, roofing materials and laminate flooring are manufactured with the addition of asbestos.
Modern Asbestos-Containing Products
By law new consumer products cannot contain asbestos, but manufacturers of products that formerly contained asbestos are still permitted to use the material as long as asbestos represents less than one percent of the product makeup (a few exceptions include some types of paper, flooring felt and rollboard, which may not contain asbestos at any level).
Some modern day products still contain asbestos.>
Talc Contaminates Art Supplies
Since the public has become more aware of the risks associated with asbestos, rising concern over ingredients within certain children’s art supplies has drawn attention. Talc is frequently mined with asbestos. Talc was commonly added to crayons, clay and more; since asbestos is often a contaminant of talc, many parents were unknowingly giving their children an asbestos-containing product which was likely to be placed in their child’s mouth.
Since children have smaller lung capacities and a greater number of years remaining in their lives in which to develop an asbestos-related illness, they are generally considered one of the population groups more vulnerable to asbestos exposure. A test for airborne asbestos in a Connecticut Middle School art room in 2003 revealed triple the acceptable level as stated in the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act.
Understandably, parents have not responded favorably to this information, and some manufacturers have voluntarily removed talc from the formulation of their art supplies.
Personal Care Products Containing Talc
In addition to art supplies, baby powder, cosmetics, feminine hygiene products and more often contain talc. Consumers are advised to avoid purchasing products containing this dangerous ingredient, particularly for young children or anyone with respiratory issues.
These are just some of the most common occupations that carry a substantial risk for asbestos exposure among workers:
- HVAC technicians
- Remodeling workers
- Iron workers
- Mine workers
- Shipyard employees
- Union and Non-Union Tradesmen
- Military members
- Home inspectors
- Chemical and manufacturing plant employees
The use of asbestos was so extensive for most of the 20th century that 27 million workers were said to have suffered from exposure during the time period from 1940 to 1979 alone. Regulations are now in place that require strict handling of any asbestos-containing material, yet a countless number of individuals may still be exposed to asbestos on a daily basis if they work in an older manufacturing facility or within residences or commercial buildings built before the 1970’s. Anyone who has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease was certain to have suffered from exposure in the past, yet in order to receive financial compensation for damages, the company responsible for the exposure must be determined.
Occupations Where Employees Have Been Exposed to Asbestos
Although not a complete list, any of the following workers were likely exposed to asbestos (some may still be experiencing exposure today):
- Mine workers. Hard working individuals who supplied the nation with asbestos from mines in California, Montana, Pennsylvania, Vermont and beyond experienced some of the highest levels of exposure and may be at the greatest risk of developing an asbestos-related disease.
- Asbestos processing plant workers. Asbestos was processed, or “exfoliated”, at one of the nation’s many processing plants that were often located in close proximity to an active mine.
- Home and commercial remodelers. Since remodelers are often involved with the removal and replacement of asbestos-containing building materials, they are commonly exposed to asbestos if proper safety gear is not worn.
- Roofers. Shingles and roofing adhesive used on the majority of American homes have long contained asbestos; most manufacturers still use this hazardous mineral in roofing shingles at a concentration of one percent or less of the total composition, as allowed by law.
- HVAC technicians. Asbestos was formerly used as a protective material within HVAC equipment as well as ductwork in many homes. Technicians may also be exposed while working in attics or walls of older homes.
- Electricians, plasterers and home inspectors. These individuals are often required to inspect and work within confined areas of older, asbestos containing homes or buildings. While working, movement of materials is likely to stir up asbestos dust and create a health hazard.
- Automotive mechanics. Asbestos has been added to many components destined for the automotive industry; the material continues to be added to brake pads, clutches and more, placing unaware mechanics at risk, particularly while working in confined spaces.
- Firefighters and other emergency service providers. Protective clothing worn by firefighters typically contains asbestos. Additionally, anyone who works near the source of a damaged building may be exposed to asbestos, as occurred during the cleanup after the Twin Tower disaster of 2001.
- Pipefitters, welders and blacksmiths. Many of the materials required and used in these lines of work, including gaskets and adhesives, have been known to contain asbestos.
- Manufacturers, chemical plant employees, iron workers and engineers. Some of these individuals would have actually handled contaminated materials, while others were exposed to airborne asbestos while working in separate areas of the building or facility.
- Shipyard workers and military personnel. Anyone who worked on or near a commercial or military ship was probably exposed to asbestos because the material was widely used in the industry for decades. Members and veterans of the U.S. Navy are at substantial risk, as are longshoremen.
Asbestos Exposure is Always a Mesothelioma Risk
Workers employed in any of the above occupations may have been exposed to extremely high concentrations of asbestos. It is important to understand that if you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or asbestosis, exposure to asbestos is certain to be the cause, even if the period of exposure was relatively brief. Determining former employers or products responsible for your illness is a critical step in obtaining compensation. An experienced mesothelioma attorney can help prove your exposure and file a claim.
You can file a lawsuit for mesothelioma from asbestos exposure anywhere in the United States. You may be eligible to file any of these claims and sometimes more than one: private lawsuit, bankruptcy trust fund, out-of-court settlement or VA claim. Your attorney can help determine the venue, or location in which to file your claim that has the best probability of a favorable outcome. Call our office today to schedule a complimentary consultation with our attorneys. We have offices across the country and our mesothelioma legal team is highly respected as a formidable opponent in the courtroom.
Although the latency period from the time of exposure to the time of diagnosis is typically 10 to 50 years, the statute of limitations allows between one and six years after discovery of the illness to initiate a claim, as determined by the state in which you were exposed or live. Additionally, some state laws are more favorable to asbestos victims than others, so selecting the best venue in which to file a claim is important.
In some cases, the responsible corporation or organization may have already filed for bankruptcy. In these situations, an asbestos trust funded with money from the bankrupt company will generally handle all claims from victims of asbestos exposure. When the offending company is still operational, you may have the option of accepting or negotiating a settlement or taking your case to trial to get compensation.
The Statute of Limitations is Based on the Date of Diagnosis
With personal injury cases, the statute of limitations is generally based on the date of the diagnosis. Mesothelioma cases are different because sufferers are often unaware that they have been harmed even after the exposure has ceased and may remain symptom free for decades afterwards. To compensate for the extended latency period involved with asbestos-related illnesses, the statute of limitations is said to begin on the day the disease is actually diagnosed. From this point, victims will have anywhere from one to six years to file a claim, depending on the particular state where you reside.
Determine the Best Venue for Your Claim
Individual states are permitted to pass legislation surrounding asbestos-related claims. As a result, some states offer a much more favorable venue for victims than others. In recent years, some states (including Texas, Florida and Georgia) have passed laws that make it more difficult for plaintiffs to initiate a claim and/or restrict the amount of compensation they are eligible to receive.
Other states have laws that are more protective of asbestos victims. California and New York lead the way in this regard, with New York court systems processing more asbestos-related claims than any other state in the nation. Since you do not have to live in the same state in which your claim is filed, it is very wise to work with an attorney who will determine the venue most likely to result in a fair settlement for your illness.
Varying Types of Claims for Asbestos Victims
People who are suffering from mesothelioma are eligible to receive compensation from the organization(s) responsible for their exposure. Many of the large corporations who continued to utilize asbestos for decades despite an awareness of the health risks have already filed bankruptcy.
If your exposure occurred on the jobsite with one of these bankrupt companies, you’ll generally have to file your claim through an asbestos trust that distributes money which has been set aside by the organization to compensate all future victims who have developed an asbestos-related illness because of the company’s negligence. Although trust claims are likely to be processed more quickly than traditional lawsuits, payouts are often more restricted with bankruptcy trust claims.
Negotiating a Settlements vs. Lawsuit
If the company responsible for your asbestos exposure is still in business, a claim may be filed directly against them in most cases. In the vast majority of mesothelioma cases, settlements are reached before the case ever goes to trial. Victims often prefer settlements in order to receive their compensation more quickly with less hassle, while organizations prefer them to prevent negative publicity and minimize payouts.
We recommend hiring an experienced attorney so that you do not feel pressured to accept a lowball offer. If you are concerned about the time it takes to receive compensation, sometimes asbestos trials can be expedited.
However, some cases do make it to trial and may result in a substantially larger financial reward. The competency of your attorney will have a tremendous impact on the amount of compensation you ultimately receive.
Offices Throughout the Nation
The professionals within the law offices of Baron & Budd are highly experienced in handling mesothelioma and other asbestos-related claims. Fifty attorneys and 200 total staff members are available to help you through every step of the process while reducing your stress so you can focus on personal healing. We maintain offices throughout the nation and will come to you for the initial consultation. Contact our office today to schedule a complimentary consultation to discuss the details of your case. We’ll help you determine the best way to move forward in a timely manner.
Asbestos exposure is a risk across the United States, but the states with the highest concentrations of asbestos exposure are those with the greatest amount of industrial facilities and asbestos mines. The most commonly used form of asbestos, chrysotile asbestos, was mined in Vermont as recently as 1993. The Montana town of Libby is one of the most dangerous places in America in terms of asbestos pollution. El Dorado County in Northern California is another site of concern, because it was built on top of a very large deposit of asbestos.
People who live in states that have a higher percentage of industrial workers generally suffer from some of the highest mesothelioma deaths rates within the nation. People in industrial rich areas typically find employment in places like refineries, factories and processing facilities where asbestos was added during the manufacturing process of consumer goods. Many companies also used asbestos in insulation, cigarette filters and automotive parts. Individuals living near areas where asbestos was mined and/or is naturally present in the soil are also at a high risk of developing an asbestos-related disease later in life.
U.S. States With High Risk of Asbestos Exposure
Residents who live or have lived in any of the following states are generally at the greatest risk of developing an asbestos-related illness:
- Vermont. From the turn of the 19th century and until 1993, Vermont was home to a number of asbestos mines. Industrial facilities within the state also processed asbestos in preparation for use in consumer goods.
- California. At least 44 of the 58 counties within California have naturally occurring deposits of asbestos. In El Dorado County, concentrations in the soil are so high that residents and contractors must acquire a permit before beginning any project involving earthworks.
- Ohio. Due to the presence of a large number of industrial facilities which have utilized one form of asbestos or another over the course of many decades, Ohio ranks 6th in the nation for the greatest number of annual deaths attributed to mesothelioma and/or asbestosis.
- Montana. From 1923 until 1990, Libby, Montana was home to one of the most active asbestos mines in the country. Residents who lived in close proximity to the mine are 60 times more likely to develop an asbestos-related illness when compared to those who live in less contaminated areas of the country.
- Pennsylvania. The combination of asbestos mines and a significant number of industrial facilities have resulted in Pennsylvania’s large number of asbestos-related deaths, which total nearly 3000 per year.
- Washington. Industries involved in shipbuilding, refining of oil and generation of electricity, and processing of timber, metals and other natural resources have resulted in more than 1500 annual mesothelioma and/or asbestosis deaths, putting the state at 9th highest in the nation.
- Michigan. Michigan comes in 10th place for the greatest number of annual asbestos-related deaths. The strong presence of automotive and other industrial facilities exposed thousands of people to various forms of asbestos for more than 100 years.
- New Jersey. New Jersey was home to multiple companies who manufactured and/or utilized a significant percentage of the asbestos in circulation throughout the 20th century.
- Massachusetts. The use of asbestos in shipbuilding, construction, and other manufacturing led to thousands of Massachusetts deaths. The state ranks 13th in the nation for the greatest number of mesothelioma deaths.
- Texas, California & Louisiana. These states are heavily involved in the petroleum and chemical refining and processing. Asbestos-containing products were used prolifically in all of these facilities. Thus, most of the workers would have been exposed to asbestos on a daily basis.
An Ongoing Risk Throughout the Nation
Many of the mines and plants mentioned above still pose a hazard to local residents. The EPA has listed some (now closed) asbestos mines as Superfund sites and efforts have been made to reduce the overall risk of air pollution. Asbestos-containing products, however, are still present in nearly every home and commercial building constructed before the late 1970’s, and manufacturers are still permitted to include the material in consumer goods at low concentrations. Knowing the risks and obtaining competent medical help at the first sign of respiratory distress may improve the prognosis for those who have been exposed to asbestos.
Second hand asbestos exposure is when someone is exposed to asbestos exposure at work or another place and they bring the asbestos fibers with them in their clothes or other belongings, contaminating family members and spouses. Eight out of 10 people who develop mesothelioma from asbestos exposure are men because they typically worked in more industrial occupations when mesothelioma was heavily used. However, women and children of these men also developed mesothelioma from prolonged exposure and inhalation from secondary asbestos exposure.
When we think of asbestos exposure, the image of a hard-working man on the job site probably comes to mind. Although 80% of all mesothelioma victims are indeed men, the remaining 20 percent of cases include the women and children. In some cases the mother or father exposed at work came home without changing or showering, and had asbestos particles on their clothing, hair and more.
Asbestos fibers have a tendency to firmly adhere to fabrics; this property made it very easy for a significant amount of this hazardous material to be carried home everyday to family members. This is second-hand asbestos exposure. The smaller lung capacities of women and children put them at an increased risk of developing mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases later in life, even though they were exposed to relatively low concentrations of the material. Prolonged exposure, even at a low concentration, causes mesothelioma.
One Fifth of Mesothelioma Victims are Women and/or Were Exposed During Childhood
Throughout the period when asbestos use was common within numerous industries of our nation, most employers did not provide showers or laundry facilities to workers whose clothing and hair collected a significant amount of asbestos fibers over the course of the day. As a result, these workers, who were primarily men, returned home to their family members covered in this hazardous material.
Children who hugged their father as he walked in the door would have been exposed to a daily dose of the material over the course of many years, as would the women who shook out and washed their husbands’ soiled clothing that had been contaminated with asbestos. Since washrooms were often small, confined spaces within homes of the day, the amount of material inhaled would have been increased due to lack of ventilation and the resulting high concentration of fibers.
Reduced Lung Capacity Linked With Higher Rates of Mesothelioma
Taller people (which typically include men) tend to have larger lungs and a greater lung capacity than shorter individuals, such as women and children. Those with lower lung capacity have been shown to retain a greater percentage of asbestos fibers in their lung tissue and major airways, leaving them at an increased risk of developing mesothelioma.
Children who sustain second-hand asbestos exposure are thought to be at an even higher risk of developing mesothelioma than women because their lungs are smaller. While men were often exposed to high concentrations of asbestos for hours every day, women and children who received secondary exposure would have been exposed to varying concentration levels for much shorter periods of time. Reduced lung capacities may have played a significant role in the development of asbestos-related diseases in vulnerable family members exposed continuously throughout childhood.
Does Secondary Asbestos Exposure Still Occur Today?
Although only a small fraction of the asbestos that was used during decades past is still added to consumer goods today, it is still legally permissible to include asbestos in product formulations as long as its concentration is one percent or less. Regulations involving the safe handling of asbestos have significantly improved, but certain workers remain at risk of bringing home asbestos fibers and causing secondary asbestos exposure in family members unless extreme caution is used.
Home remodelers, automotive and HVAC technicians, plumbers, and electricians are still highly likely to come across asbestos fibers in their daily activities. The risk is particularly high after working in an older home or with brake or clutch parts. Many employers now offer employees shower and laundry facilities in order to comply with safe handling regulations for asbestos. Independent contractors, however, must rely on their own initiative at the end of the day to prevent secondary exposure in loved ones.
No, unfortunately there is no way to treat someone exposed to asbestos. Asbestos fibers are extremely difficult for the body to remove and no known medical procedure is able to assist the body in this process. Once embedded in human tissue asbestos particles are likely to cause inflammation and scarring in the surrounding tissue. Asbestos can become lodged in tissue throughout the body in different ways. It can migrate from lung tissue to the lining of the lungs when a person inhales airborne asbestos fibers, and can also become lodged in the lining of the abdomen, heart or testicles.
Asbestosis is an inflammation of tissue from asbestos exposure, but unlike mesothelioma it is a non-cancerous condition. Asbestosis causes respiratory distress in patients and is typically treated with various types of medications and respiratory therapies, including supplemental oxygen. Asbestosis, formed from inhalation of asbestos fibers, can contribute to the development of mesothelioma.
The best “treatment” for asbestos exposure is prevention. Minimize exposure to asbestos by exercising extreme caution when handling or coming in close to proximity to any perceived asbestos-containing materials.
Asbestos Exposure Prevention Checklist
- Wear Protective Gear
- Follow Government Safety Protocol
- Test Flooring, Insulation, & Other Materials for Asbestos Before Remodeling
- Hire a Professional Asbestos Abatement Team
- Know Where Asbestos is Naturally Occurring Around You
- Report Asbestos Safety Violations
Wear a Protective Mask Every Time. Once asbestos particles become airborne, they can be inhaled by anyone in the area who is not wearing a protective mask; once inhaled, fibers typically accumulate in lung tissue and the lining of the lungs.
Know Where Nearby Asbestos Hotspots. Sites containing naturally occurring asbestos or places in close proximity to asbestos mines may have groundwater that contains asbestos. In situations like this, local residents may be ingesting fibers without even knowing it.
Asbestos Exposure is Irreversible. Once asbestos fibers enter the body there is no known way to remove them without removing the organ or tissue they are attached to. For this reason, it is extremely important to take precautionary measures when dealing with asbestos containing materials.
What Happens When Asbestos Fibers Enter the Body?
The human body is incredible. Once the body identifies asbestos fibers as foreign, it tries to remove them by pushing them toward the eliminatory/lymphatic area creating inflammation. Over time, however, this inflammation can lead to scarring and may develop into asbestosis and/or mesothelioma in areas where the most asbestos and inflammation occur.
Asbestosis & Mesothelioma
While asbestosis is not a fatal condition, victims will suffer from respiratory distress and must be treated with medications and other therapies such as respiratory physiotherapy and oxygen treatments. An asbestosis diagnosis sometimes precedes a mesothelioma diagnosis, but not always. There is no cure for mesothelioma, but traditional cancer treatments including radiation, chemotherapy and surgery can sometimes increase life expectancy after a diagnosis.
Preventing On the Job Asbestos Exposure
Most people exposed to asbestos at work before the 1980’s had no idea that they were in jeopardy. However, public awareness regarding the dangers of this carcinogen has grown significantly. As a result, people can make smart choices before handling asbestos-containing material. Employers are also responsible for maintaining a safe work environment and providing appropriate safety gear to minimize risk of exposure.
It is important to understand where asbestos fibers may be located. The material was heavily used in insulation, flooring, walls, ceiling panels, roofing products, joint compound, and many other household building products. For this reason, anyone tackling a remodeling project on a home built before the late 1970’s should proceed with extreme caution and test for asbestos before disturbing any potentially contaminated material. Automotive technicians should also be aware that brake pads and clutches may still contain asbestos. A tight fitting, protective mask should be worn by anyone in proximity to airborne asbestos, and care should be used to prevent the disturbance of asbestos containing materials whenever possible.
How Can I Reduce My Risk of Mesothelioma After Exposure?
People who suspect they have been exposed to asbestos in the past may be able to reduce their chances of developing mesothelioma or asbestosis by enhancing their immune system. Since the immune system is responsible for the removal of genetically altered (pre-cancerous) cells, it is logical that lifestyle and nutritional changes which improve immune function can help the body fare better over time.
Consuming colorful vegetables and fruits along with healthy fats like avocados, coconut and olives oils in place of sugar and processed foods is a significant step in the right direction. Gentle exercise and the cessation of smoking, along with the reduction of stress, will also go a long way towards maintaining a healthy body.
If you were diagnosed with mesothelioma cal to speak with Baron & Budd for help.
Yes, but not by catching it. Mesothelioma is not a contagious disease and there is no risk of developing the illness merely by living with someone who has been exposed to asbestos. Asbestos fibers must be directly inhaled or ingested to cause mesothelioma. However, second hand asbestos exposure can cause mesothelioma among children or grandchildren whose parents bring home the fibers on their clothes, boots, and other items. Secondary asbestos exposure is responsible for many cases of mesothelioma and other asbestos related conditions. People with a parent who was diagnosed with mesothelioma are advised to talk with a doctor, as secondary exposure may have occurred.
What is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is an aggressive type of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, that develops as a result of scarring and inflammation around tissue contaminated with sharp asbestos fibers. Mesothelioma can develop in various parts of the body like the lungs, abdomen, heart, and testicles. The most common form of mesothelioma occurs in the lungs.
Types of Secondary Exposure
Many husbands and fathers unknowingly carried home asbestos fibers on their clothing, work boots, hats, jackets, and hair after exposure at work. Many wives, housekeepers, and children became victims of secondary exposure as a result from exposure. Examples include:
- Asbestos Contaminated Clothing Washed Together
- Physical Contact or Close Proximity to Contaminated Person
- Distribution of Asbestos Fibers Throughout Home
When contaminated work clothes are washed together with the rest of the family’s laundry, the asbestos fibers may have become embedded in the wife and children’s clothing too. Housekeepers who washed, dried, and ironed the family’s clothing have also developed mesothelioma.
When a father covered in asbestos comes home and happily embraces his wife and children, he can contaminate them when fibers are rubbed off onto their skin, their clothing, and breathed in when airborne.
Asbestos on a father’s boots or coat can rub fibers into the carpet, the couch, chairs, and other household surfaces repeatedly. This is equates prolonged exposure to asbestos, even if only in small amounts.
Secondary Exposure & the Development of Mesothelioma
Factors that affect the likelihood of developing mesothelioma after second hand asbestos exposure include:
- Person’s Overall Health
- Age at Time of Exposure
Children who experienced secondary exposure to asbestos for many years can be diagnosed with mesothelioma as long as 50 years later. Although studies are not conclusive, evidence suggests that people with smaller lung capacities, namely, women and children, are more vulnerable to asbestos fibers than those with larger lungs.
Additionally, the long latency period associated with mesothelioma makes it statistically more likely that children who have been exposed will be diagnosed later in life, simply because more of them are still alive when symptoms begin to appear.
Lifestyle factors are also said to affect the chances of developing mesothelioma. Smoking and poor nutrition compromise the immune system and make it harder for the body to kill and remove genetically mutated cells before they develop into cancer.
If My Parents are Diagnosed with Mesothelioma What Should I Do?
If one of your parents has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, they were definitely exposed to asbestos. We recommend that you get involved to learn more about when and where they were exposed, and know the symptoms of mesothelioma. Depending on where your family member worked and what position they held, it is quite possible that the airborne asbestos fiber concentration they experienced was high.
Few safety regulations were in place before the mid 1970’s and most corporations did not warn employees of the health hazards associated with asbestos. Unless your family member meticulously showered and changed his or her clothing before returning home from work, it is highly likely that you experienced secondary exposure.
Early detection of mesothelioma is one of the best ways to improve the overall prognosis of this disease. People who discover their cancer at stage I or II tend to respond much more favorably to conventional treatment options and may live for five to 10 years (or more) after diagnosis. Anyone who suspects they were exposed to asbestos during childhood is highly advised to schedule an examination with a physician. Chest x-rays and other screening tests may be ordered to determine if mesothelioma is developing in your body.
Diagnosed with mesothelioma and suspect secondary asbestos exposure? Contact Baron & Budd for legal help.
Disclaimer: Results obtained depend on the facts of each case. Award amounts are not actual cash amounts received by plaintiffs. Deductions are made for liens, attorney fees and expenses.