An estimated 1.3 million workers face significant workplace asbestos exposure. Workers in the construction, manufacturing, and insulation industries are at greatest risk for asbestos exposure. One study concluded that workers in the insulation industry are 92 times more likely to become ill than laborers in other occupations. The U.S. Occupational and Safety Health Administration (OSHA) established regulations to protect laborers from workplace asbestos exposure, including maximum exposure rules, protective equipment, and hygiene facilities.

Asbestos is a group of six naturally occurring minerals with strong and flexible fibers. Asbestos was extensively used in buildings’ insulation and consumer products because it was durable and fire resistant. Asbestos is dangerous when its fibers are airborne and inhaled. Most asbestos is classified as non-friable, meaning it will release its toxic fibers only if cut, disturbed, or manipulated in any manner.

In 1978, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) instituted a ban on asbestos containing construction materials. Furthermore, in 1989, the EPA banned all asbestos containing products in the United States; however, the federal courts declared the ban unreasonable. The courts, however, upheld the EPA ban on manufacturing new asbestos containing products. These regulations were established because asbestos exposure was linked to several severe and fatal diseases such as Mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer. 

Mesothelioma:

Mesothelioma is a rare cancer in which cells of the mesothelium (a membrane that protects most of the body’s internal organs) become abnormal and divide uncontrollably. Workplace asbestos exposure is the major risk factor for mesothelioma, causing an estimated 80% of mesothelioma diagnoses. Mesothelioma has also been reported in individuals without asbestos exposure. Mesothelioma generally takes decades to manifest itself; therefore, patients are often diagnosed after mesothelioma reached an untreatable stage. This makes the average survival rate for mesothelioma patients less than a year.  If you or a loved one have developed Mesothelioma, please contact one of our asbestos attorneys for a confidential and free case evaluation.

Asbestosis:

Asbestosis is a non-cancerous respiratory disorder caused by inhaling asbestos fibers. The asbestos fibers accumulate, causing lung tissue scarring and difficulty breathing. Asbestosis occurs after long term asbestos exposure and its symptoms typically take 20 to 30 years to manifest themselves. There is no known cure for asbestosis and the most severe cases may be fatal.

Lung Cancer:

Lung cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the lungs. The abnormal cells cannot function normally and can form tumors. As the tumor steadily grows, it can impede the lung’s function, which is providing oxygen to the body. The main cause of lung cancer is smoking and inhaling asbestos fibers increases the risk. Lung cancer is generally treatable with surgery or chemotherapy; however, the more severe cases could be fatal.

If you or a loved has been injured by asbestos exposure, please contact us as you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Contact us as well if you would like more information about asbestos or asbestos related diseases.        

Published November 17, 2011 by