Asbestos Facts: What Is Asbestos and What Are the Exposure Risks?

If you think you have a case to sue after potential asbestos exposure, it's crucial you know the facts.

Many people aren't aware of what this highly toxic (yet naturally occurring) mineral substance is, nor how or why it can affect you.

If you're looking to clue yourself up on asbestos facts - and decide whether or not you are within your rights to sue - read on.

Asbestos Facts: What is Asbestos?

Broadly categorized, asbestos is a group of minerals that are fibrous and resistant to chemicals, heat and electricity. Because of these properties, it became commonplace in the construction industry and increasingly used as a building material.

As a result, many buildings in America were constructed using it. In some cases, it was combined with the likes of cement, cloth, paper and plastic, forming a foamy insulating material.

Because of the tiny fibers getting trapped in this material, disease started to thrive within asbestos.

The US government recognizes six types of asbestos. This includes the so-called white asbestos, brown asbestos, and blue asbestos.

Many corporations covered up their use of asbestos when the health hazards were uncovered. This was an attempt to save themselves from legal action.

Asbestos Facts: Hidden Danger

One of the major worries with asbestos is that the fibers are microscopic,  odorless, tasteless and near-on invisible. This means it is difficult to prove it is present somewhere. It is also hard to prove whether you are being affected by it or not - largely because of the following...

Asbestos poisoning does not tend to affect someone immediately. Ingesting it - for example, via dust inhalation - can often mean the fibers will reside in your body indefinitely. What's more, their effects are likely to not become sympomatic until much later on in life.

As the fibers become trapped internally, they can aggravate the body. This can cause scarring, cell damage, internal bleeding, inflammation, and potential genetic damage.

Sometimes illness via asbestos can take between 20-50 years to show up. Disease can develop the longer you are exposed to asbestos, and if you are exposed to a high density.

Mesothelioma Facts: Disease

As a result of asbestos fiber exposure, those who have ingested it can find themselves with lung problems.

This may lead to less-severe cases of breathing difficulties, but it can be much more serious.

Lung cancer can develop, as can pleural mesothelioma and peritoneal mesothelioma. Asbestos is the top cause for cancer in the workplace on the planet.

Asbestos Facts: Who is at Risk?

Disease from these fibers are typically found in males, 60 or older. This is a result of the time frame in which asbestos was used in industry and construction.

This is also thanks to the trait of symptoms developing over time, rather than immediately.

The fact that mostly men are affected is due to workplaces featuring asbestos historically being staffed by this gender. For example, men tended to work in the factories that manufactured asbestos-driven products. This created an obvious high risk of exposure.

As mentioned above, these fibers were largely used in construction. This meant that laborers and workmen in this trade would historically encounter it.
Mining is another sector which has proven to be a high-risk profession where such mineral exposure is prevalent.

The armed forces, and professions such as firefighting, are synonymous with asbestos exposure. This is due to the nature of the work. As are shipbuilding and electricity generation. Certain sectors of research are also linked to this kind of dangerous exposure.

By default, loved ones of those who work in these industries are also at a higher risk. Secondhand exposure is likely. For example, from the clothing or tools of a firefighter or a construction worker.

In addition, living close to a mine contaminated by asbestos creates a major risk. The town of Libby, Montana fell prey to one of the worst environmental disasters in history when mining caused the microfibers to travel into the town and cause hundreds of deaths.

Asbestos at the Brooklyn Navy Yard:

The pipe shop at New York's - Brooklyn navy yard used asbestos in the lagging it manufactured. That material was then used to act as insulation around hot water and steam pipes in some of the country's most famous naval ships that were manufactured or repaired at the navy yard. The central power plant also used asbestos-containing material produced at the same location as insulation.

Thousand's of civilians and countless veterans were exposed to and breathed in this harmful material.  Many of these people ultimately developed lung diseases including mesothelioma as a result of being exposed at the shipyard.

Asbestos Facts: The History

Asbestos was revered throughout history among the wealthy and powerful, unbeknownst to them that it was toxic.

Ancient Egyptians who would cover their embalmed pharaohs in everlasting asbestos cloth. Medieval kings were cremated in it. Ancient Romans commissioned asbestos napkins and tablecloths. They would burn instead of launder them. This could cause it to travel, poisoning the air of course.

One Roman historian figured out the problem, however, and wrote of the warning signs. This was largely disregarded at the time.

By the time industry bosses cottoned on to the benefits of asbestos, it became used in its droves. Any concerns were ignored and there were cover-ups to protect themselves and their businesses. Employees were fine as symptoms didn't show, and so they could continue to work, unaware.

This was eventually reported on when things became much more apparent. Lawsuits began to take place, starting most notably in 1973.

Hundreds of thousands of claimants have sought compensation since this. And hundreds of companies have gone bankrupt as a direct result. Asbestos litigation continues to be the longest running mass tort in US history.

When to Sue?

Now you know the asbestos facts, could you be entitled to a compensation claim yourself? Have you suffered personal injury or the wrongful death of a family member due to asbestos exposure in the workplace?

The key step to make next is to consult a mesothelioma lawyer. They will be up to speed on asbestos manufacturers and assist with identifying if they could be responsible. They will also know all about existing case law and the current movements in asbestos claims.

Contact us now to discuss your potential compensation claim?

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