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The World Health Organization estimates that around 125 million workers were exposed to asbestos in the workplace. Further, it estimates that at least 107,000 people die worldwide from exposure to the substance each year. Asbestos is the name of a group of six fibrous minerals that occur naturally in the environment. Chrysotile, amosite, crocidolite, asbestos only causes mesothelioma and anthophyllite are the four fibers that are most commonly found. The properties in these fibers created a mineral that was exceptionally durable, excellent for insulating, and completely unaffected and resistant to fire. Over the past century, the toxic substance was a widely-used ingredient in a multitude of different construction, insulation, and manufacturing materials. Contact an asbestos lawyer from The Carlson Law Firm to get answers to your questions.
Asbestos lawsuits are complex and depending on your state have a statute of limitations. It is in your best interest to contact a mesothelioma attorney to discuss your options. The Carlson Law Firm has more than 40 years of experience helping victims of workplace injuries. An experienced asbestos lawyer from our firm will handle your case with compassion and care. We are familiar with the avenues of compensation relevant to your specific situation. Contact our firm for a free consultation. Our firm will advocate for your rights and hold the right parties accountable for your injuries.
History of Asbestos in America
It was during the Industrial Revolution that newly opened factories expanded the use of this fiber and therefore increased the demand for the so-called magical mineral. Mines began to appear in the late 1800s because of the overwhelming demand. Additional uses sparked interest among the railroad, shipyard and construction industries. As America expanded, so did the use of this hazardous product. This newly developed interest and demand also garnered the attention of entrepreneurs who saw great potential and the opportunity to get rich.
Widespread use of the toxic substance prevailed in the 20th century. The United States military, the automobile industry, and the building industry were major buyers of the asbestos. The building industry considered the substance a safety product because of its fire-resistant properties. It was used in wall insulation, floor and ceiling tiles, exterior siding, roofing tar and shingles, stucco, drywall tape, gaskets, cement pipes, rain gutters, plaster, putty, caulk, and a host of other building products.
Is Asbestos Still in Use in the United States Today?
While the Environmental Protection Agency first banned certain uses of asbestos in 1973, it is still in use in a variety of products but with restricted use. The United States still imports it for specific uses. The Mesothelioma Center reports that asbestos can still legally be found in the following the 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 has Congress Tried to Legislate Asbestos?
In the 1960s, Dr. Irving J. Selikoff conclusively linked mesothelioma and lung cancer to asbestos. Dr. Selikoff’s studies provided the evidence needed to counteract the politically powerful asbestos industry.
Subsequently, throughout the 1970s and 1980s, federal officials proposed the following legislation in hopes of regulating the use of the toxic substance.
- Clean Air Act of 1970. This Act classified asbestos as a hazardous air pollutant. Further, it established the EPA’s power to regulate the use and disposal of the product. This act led to the banning of spray-applied asbestos products.
- Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA), 1976. The TSCA provided the EPA the authority to place restrictions on dangerous chemicals such as asbestos, radon and lead-based paint.
- Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA), 1986. Required the EPA to establish standards for inspecting and removing the toxic substance in schools.
- Asbestos Ban and Phase-Out Rule (ABPR), 1989. In July of 1989, the EPA issued the ABPR, which planned to impose a full ban on manufacturing importation, processing and sale of asbestos-containing products. However, in 1991, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated and remanded the rule. As a result, most of the original ban was overturned.
- Ban on Spray-On Application. In 1990, the EPA prohibited spray-on application of materials containing more than 1 percent of asbestos to building, structures, pipes and conduits unless certain conditions are specified.
2000s Asbestos Legislation
The Murray Bill
There have since been several other attempts to outright ban the substance including the 2002 Murray Bill. The Murray Bill was first introduced as the Ban Asbestos in America Act. Its intent was to totally ban the product in the United States. If successful, the bill would’ve prohibited the importation, manufacture, processing, and distribution of all asbestos-containing products. The bill would’ve covered all known types of asbestos and fibers with a similar structure to asbestos. In addition, the bill would have included:
- Establishing a network of research and treatment center, better record keeping of asbestos-related disease, and additional research into the causes and cures of mesothelioma and related diseases.
- Directing the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to review current knowledge on asbestos diseases, health effects and measurement methods. Further, NIOSH would’ve been able to recommend areas of research that were lacking.
- Provide funding for public awareness programs to raise awareness of asbestos and its dangers.
The Murray Bill ultimately lost support as a result of a compromise after the removal of one sentence. During negotiations to pass the bill, Congress members removed a sentence that stated the ban applied to any product where the substance was deliberately added or there was some trace of the chemical in a product. With the removal of this sentence, it made the bill unable to achieve an outright ban on the toxic substance.
Bruce Vento Ban Asbestos and Prevent Mesothelioma Act
The Bruce Vento Ban Asbestos and Prevent Mesothelioma Act was introduced to Congress on Sept. 15, 2008. The Bill aimed to amend the TSCA and ban more types of asbestos-containing products. Unfortunately, the bill hasn’t been presented for a vote since it died in Congress.
Where is Asbestos Found?
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, workplace exposure affected approximately 27.5 million people. In many cases, companies intentionally withheld the dangers of exposure from unsuspecting workers.
For example, companies and manufacturers dealing with these fibrous crystals have known for almost a century that the inhalation of these fibers is associated with several debilitating and often fatal asbestos-related diseases. Exposure affected thousands of unsuspecting workers daily. As a result, this dangerous carcinogen was in abundance as they worked in factories, mills, railroads and other industrial occupations, often bringing fibers home and unknowingly exposing their family to household exposure.
Due to the conditions, hardly anyone working at a manufacturing job was safe from exposure. However, their families weren’t safe either. Employees have brought contaminated clothing from the workplace into the family home, exposing family members to asbestos.
For decades, manufacturers chose profit over people’s health by continuing to manufacture, distribute and supply asbestos-containing products.
Previous uses of some of the products that used the material include:
- Manufactured goods
- Roof shingles
- Ceiling and floor tiles
- Paper products
- Cement products
- Automobile clutches
- Auto brakes
- Vehicle transmission parts
- Heat resistant fabrics
Exposures frequently occur in the following industries:
- Military Personnel
- Metal Workers
- Chemical Plant Workers
- Sheet Metal Workers
- Power Plant Workers
- Oil Refinery Workers
Asbestos cancer can be very perplexing for someone suffering from Mesothelioma. This is particularly true for those who don’t remember ever working in a toxic environment. These people often feel that they do not have a case because they cannot remember how or when the exposure occurred. However, since mesothelioma is only caused by asbestos, these people must have had exposure to it at some point.
Mesothelioma can, in fact, be caused by second-hand exposure to the toxic substance. Workers who handled these products would often carry the microscopic fibers on their hair, shoes, and clothes into their household. There have been many cases where exposure occurred through a woman washing her husband’s work clothes. Similarly, children risk exposure; even a simple hug with the child’s father after he returned from work could later cause asbestos-related illnesses in the child.
Military Service Members Exposure
Veterans of any branch of the United States military have offered brave, selfless service to the country. Sadly, in performing specific duties, many veterans were exposed to asbestos, which is a toxic, carcinogenic substance. It had wide use on ships and other military vessels before the federal ban in 1979. When a person inhales the mineral’s fibers, they can cause permanent damage to a person’s lungs. Mesothelioma is an aggressive and rare form of cancer that science links to exposure to it. However, because it takes decades for a diagnosis of the condition, there is typically little that can be done to identify the source of exposure.
For veterans who are diagnosed with mesothelioma, it is often somewhat easier to determine the source of exposure as many specific duties placed servicemen and women in direct contact with the toxic substance.
Serving the country in the military comes with inherent risks. However, many veterans were unknowingly exposed to hidden dangers when working in specific capacities where this dangerous fiber was present. If you worked in one of the following areas, you are more at higher risk of exposure to asbestos than others:
- Piping / Plumbing
- Siding and tiling
If you were exposed to asbestos during your time in the military, it’s important you contact a skilled asbestos lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced asbestos lawyer from our firm will handle your case with compassion and care.
How did Asbestos Exposure Occur in the US Navy?
Nearly one-third of people who develop mesothelioma are veterans. Further, a majority of former servicemembers with the disease have a Navy service record. Asbestos products cover U.S. Navy ships from bow to stern. Although the ships were built with the product for its effective fireproofing qualities, it also exposes everyone on board to the toxic material.
The worst areas for service member exposure were below-deck compartments. For example, asbestos paint covered boiler rooms, engine rooms, ammunition storage rooms, mess halls and sleeping quarters. As a result of aging ships, this paint flaked and the fiber becomes airborne. Consequently, anyone on board likely inhaled the toxic substance.
What Types of Asbestos Exposures Affected the Marine Corps?
Marines were also incredibly vulnerable to asbestos exposure. The toxic substance lined armored vehicles, planes, and ships that provided transportation to battle zones In addition, the bases where they lived and trained were covered in the toxic chemical as well.
Marine Corps mechanics and repairmen were among the service members who unknowingly worked with crumbling asbestos. For that reason, service members in these positions often risked the most exposure to form of airborne dust and particles.
How did Asbestos Exposure Occur in the Army?
Asbestos exposure occurred for Army service members during the 20th century mostly in buildings where the ate, slept and worked. In many of these buildings, the substance covered pipes, flooring, roofing materials, as well as insulation and cement foundations.
Even though asbestos use in new constructions ended by the late 1970s, the substance remained in Army Installations decades later. Over several decades, 32 military bases were shut down and on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund list of worst toxic waste sites. The bases required an estimated $1 billion environmental cleanup.
Air Force Exposure
Much like every other branch of the military, US Air Force servicemen and women flew aircraft that used asbestos as an insulator. The substance provided much-needed heat protection in the cockpit, heat shields, and overall insulation. Similar to mechanics across the five branches, mechanics were at the highest risk of inhaling fibers. Pilots were also at an increased risk because they were sitting in cockpits covered in the substance.
US Coast Guard Exposure
Asbestos exposure to Coast Guard members comes from the fact that manufacturers used the substance liberally throughout much of the 20th century. Notably, there was some concern about the dangers of asbestos as far back as World War II. However, because of the pressing threat of fires on ships, builders ignored the concerns because of the substances’ benefits. As a result, gaskets, boiler room equipment, pumps, turbines, electrical insulation, pipes, and plumbing all contained the product. Asbestos fiber was even woven through the ropes used throughout ships. Ships weren’t the only place where exposure occurred, housing structures and buildings around Coast Guard bases also contained the substance.
In recent years, the Coast Guard has taken extra steps to protect its members from asbestos exposure. For example, members moving into any structure built before 1981, they must sign a Disclosure of Environmental Health Hazards in Coast Guard Housing contract.
Mesothelioma and Asbestos-Related Diseases
A disease diagnosis such as mesothelioma, lung cancer or asbestosis is devastating news. Further, every year thousands of people suffer from illnesses related to direct, household or bystander exposure.
Asbestos exposure has a strong association with several potentially fatal illnesses. The most serious of which is malignant mesothelioma. This aggressive cancer affects the lining of the lungs, heart, abdomen and other organs. Further, as with all related diseases, it often doesn’t manifest for years or even decades after the initial exposure.
Because asbestos-related diseases are almost attributable to asbestos exposure, you should tell your doctor about any past exposure, including your work or family history.
If you’re suffering from Mesothelioma or know someone who is, contact an asbestos lawyer at The Carlson Law Firm immediately for a free case evaluation.
Frequently Asked Asbestos Lawsuit Related Questions
- How long do you have to be exposed to asbestos to get mesothelioma? There is no magic number when it comes to exposure. However, research shows that prolonged or consistent exposure to the toxic substance may lead to mesothelioma.
- Is there a way to treat asbestos exposure? No, unfortunately, there is no way to treat someone already exposed to the toxic substance. Fibers are extremely difficult to remove from the body and no known medical procedure is available to remedy the situation. The best treatment for exposure is prevention.
- Where do I file a lawsuit for mesothelioma from asbestos exposure? You can file a lawsuit for exposure anywhere in the United States. Your attorney can help you best determine the right venue for your claim for a favorable outcome.
- How much time passes between exposure and diagnosis? The latency period from the time of exposure to time of diagnosis is typically 10 to 50 years. The statute of limitations usually allows between one and six years after the discovery of illness to initiate a claim. In addition, the state where your exposure occurred determines the statute of limitations in your case.
How An Exposure Attorney Can Help You With Your Asbestos Lawsuit
Asbestos-related illness cases come with complications unique to the disease. Because symptoms don’t appear for decades, tracking down the companies responsible for your pain can be difficult. If a company no longer exists or operates under a different name, filing a lawsuit isn’t impossible—but it isn’t easy for someone who doesn’t have experience developing these cases for trial. Mesothelioma attorneys at The Carlson Law Firm understand how these cases work and how to pursue the right parties for compensation.