Asbestos exposure kills between 5,000 and 10,000 Americans every year (ewg.org)
43,073 have died in the United States from asbestos exposure since 1979. So many Americans worked hard for decades packing asbestos into buildings, cars, appliances, and other necessities for modern living completely unaware of any risk of harm. Asbestos was used to fireproof (Epa.gov), and to this day there is no other substance that offers as much protection against fire as well as asbestos (FoxNews). For these thousands of workers, the term “asbestos exposure” was as strange as saying “ocean exposure” to a lifeguard. In the 1980’s, however, those words took on new meaning when certain horrible forms of cancer were linked to asbestos exposure. Instances of diseases such as mesothelioma sprung up like wildfire consuming not just the health of these workers, but their families through second-hand asbestos exposure. Whereas, nowadays workers are given masks, gloves, and protective gear even when doing minor construction on an area that contains asbestos, decades ago, these workers were given nothing of the sort. They handled it barehanded, and were told it was as benign a substance as snow. Tragically, the lives of these people working to fireproof America went up in smoke.
Perhaps the most frightening part about the asbestos problem is how many people came in contact with the substance. If you were alive in the early 1970’s in America, you probably were exposed to asbestos as some point in your life. The people that have it the worst though are the people who worked with asbestos. Their risks for contracting asbestos-related diseases are much greater than the average person. Thousands of plumbers, contractors, and even people who served in the military all developed mesothelioma from asbestos exposure, and what is worse is that asbestos manufacturing companies knew about the problem all along (EPA.gov).
There are two great hopes for these individuals stricken with mesothelioma: one is that someday, we will find a cure for asbestos-related diseases; the other is that our legal system recognizes this problem and allows those afflicted with these diseases the right to pursue financial compensation. This compensation can relieve you and your family of the monetary burdens associated with treating this disease, and Weitz & Luxenberg can help you pursue this compensation. We have been helping people with asbestos-related diseases receive compensation for over two decades. We know the law regarding asbestos-related illnesses. Contact us for a free legal consultation.
Who is at risk of asbestos exposure?
The National Cancer Institute states that “Everyone is exposed to asbestos at some time during their life. Low levels of asbestos are present in the air, water, and soil. However, most people do not become ill from their exposure. People who become ill from asbestos are usually those who are exposed to it on a regular basis, most often in a job where they work directly with the material or through substantial environmental contact.”
Before the US government passed major asbestos litigation in the 1980’s, people were exposed to asbestos more regularly. In the 1940’s, for example, asbestos was widely considered to be benign. People handled it without gloves or protective gear. They “played” with it like snow – packing it into place with their bare hands.
Still, to this day, asbestos can be found in older buildings and in certain tools and appliances like car breaks and pipes. Asbestos is relatively safe when it is contained, but when it is torn or broken tiny fibers can become airborne and inhaled.
Asbestos exposure risk by occupation
The following is an example of certain occupations that have the high risk of asbestos exposure:
- Construction/demolition workers
- Shipyard workers
- Plant workers
Certain other occupations run the risk of coming in contact with asbestos simply because of incidental factors such as the fact that these individuals work in older buildings that may contain asbestos. These occupations include:
- Maintenance workers
- Dry cleaners
Veterans of the army, navy, and air force are at great risk of developing asbestos-related diseases because their vessels and equipment in wartime were packed with asbestos.
Asbestos exposure risk by job duties
OSHA breaks up asbestos exposure risks in jobs into four classes:
Class 1 – Jobs that involve the removal of surfacing asbestos-containing materials and thermal system insulation. These jobs could be performed by a demolition team, contractors, or a maintenance team. Class 1 jobs put workers at the highest risk of dangerous asbestos exposure.
Class 2 – Jobs that involve the removal of all other varieties of asbestos. These can include roofing and flooring materials that contain asbestos. Contractors, roofers, and all other handymen may at some point need to perform a class 2 job.
Class 3 – Jobs that involve the maintenance and repair of places that may contain asbestos. The risky element of class 3 jobs is the potential for disturbing an area containing asbestos and inhaling the dust.
Class 4 – Jobs that involve asbestos cleanup. Any custodial duties where workers may come in contact with materials containing asbestos puts them at risk of dangerous asbestos exposure. Dust and debris are especially hazardous when it comes to asbestos and all necessary precautions must be made before performing a class 4 job.
Family members and close friends of people who work with asbestos are also at risk of developing asbestos-related diseases because of second-hand exposure. This happens when asbestos dust and micro-fibers of asbestos get stuck to the worker’s clothes or hair. These bits of asbestos come off over time and may be breathed in by anyone who is in close contact with this person. Cases exist of wives and children of asbestos handlers developing asbestos-related diseases simply because of proximity.
Factors that affect the development of asbestos-related diseases
Major factors that contribute to developing an asbestos-related disease have to do with the following:
- Frequency of exposure
- The amount of asbestos to which an individual is exposed
- Place and method in which you a person is exposed
- Variety of asbestos - certain types of asbestos have been known to put people at a greater risk of developing an asbestos-related disease than others.
- External risk factors – these include smoking (which greatly increases a person’s risk of developing an asbestos-related disease), and exposure to radon.
How does a person become sick from asbestos?
Scientists are still not positive to the exact way a person develops an asbestos-related disease. What is known is that it has to do with the shape of the fibers. These fibers seem to get lodged into the lining of the lungs for years. They irritate the lung cells and eventually some become cancerous.
A person usually breathes in asbestos for this to happen; however, if ingested, asbestos has can also form other varieties of cancer (ncbi.nlm.gov).
How Weitz & Luxenberg can help
Weitz & Luxenberg is a diligent and compassionate law firm with skilled professionals dedicated to asbestos-related cases. Our experienced team has helped so many receive the proper financial compensation they deserve for their losses, and we may be able to do the same for you.
To get started in your pursuit for financial compensation, simply fill out the form on this page. After submitting the form, a representative from Weitz & Luxenberg will be in touch with you shortly. He or she will provide you with a free, no obligation, legal consultation. There is no need to wait – contact Weitz & Luxenberg today.
US and Canada residents may seek legal counsel with our firm for an asbestos injury such as mesothelioma or lung cancer.
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