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Asbestos refers to a group of minerals that occur naturally in certain rocks as bundles of fibers. Left alone, asbestos fibers pose little risk. However, when released into the air through work-related or other activities, the microscopic fibers can be lethal.
In fact, top health agencies classify asbestos as a human carcinogen or cancer-causing substance. Asbestos exposure causes mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis, and other serious ailments. Symptoms of the diseases typically do not appear until decades after a person is first exposed to asbestos.
Sadly, many people who worked with and around asbestos-containing products and equipment were unaware of the dangers.
Makers and marketers of these products, however, knew of the potential dangers, some as early as the 1930s.
Wide use of asbestos declined dramatically in the 1970s, when the health consequences of asbestos exposure led the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to impose severe restrictions on exposures. Still, asbestos is present in products today. Some companies in the U.S. continue to bring asbestos into the country, and the toxic substance exists in older buildings, schools, and homes. Anyone who inhales airborne asbestos fibers is at risk of developing serious health complications.
Any activity that causes release of asbestos fibers in the air, such as from the cutting, drilling, scoring, or sanding of asbestos products, is dangerous. Asbestos fibers can also become airborne when people demolish or renovate older buildings, or when older asbestos-containing materials begin to deteriorate.(6)
In each of these cases, asbestos fibers create a dust made of microscopic particles that can hover in the air. When inhaled, these fibers can become lodged in your lungs and remain there for a long time, causing the lung tissue to scar and become damaged. Asbestos can also cause scarring in the protective lining of the lungs and chest cavity, known as pleura.(7) (8)
Over time, chronic lung tissue scarring caused by asbestos exposure, known as asbestosis, can lead to reduced respiratory function and death. Breathing in asbestos fibers also increases the risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma, two deadly diseases.(9)
Asbestosis is a chronic lung condition that kills about 1,451 Americans each year.(10) With a latency period of at least several years, the disease progresses over time and can make it very hard to breathe.(11) Some patients need extra oxygen to help them live; others may need a lung transplant.(12)
Lung cancer is a malignant tumor that invades the lungs. Numerous studies of asbestos-exposed workers link asbestos fibers to an increased risk of lung cancer. Often, cases of lung cancer in asbestos workers occur at least a decade after first exposure to asbestos.(13) An estimated 8,500 to 10,600 Americans die each year from asbestos-related lung cancer.(14) The combination of smoking cigarettes and asbestos exposure is particularly hazardous.
Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer of the lining of the lungs and other organs. It can take anywhere from one to five decades or more to develop. Sadly, the risk of mesothelioma does not diminish over time after exposure to asbestos stops.(15) An estimated 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma annually and nearly as many die from the disease each year.(16) (17)
In addition to the physical effects of asbestos-related diseases, victims may experience fear, stress, anxiety, and depression.
A child whose father brought asbestos fibers home on his clothing. A construction worker who is tasked with demolishing an older building where asbestos is present. An auto mechanic who works on asbestos-containing brake linings and clutch facings. These are all examples of instances where asbestos exposure is possible at the workplace or in the home.
Weitz & Luxenberg asbestos attorneys have represented retired brake specialists, shipyard workers, boilermakers, construction workers, and others exposed to asbestos from their jobs. In January 2017, our firm secured a $75 million verdict, the largest single asbestos verdict in New York, on behalf of a woman who developed mesothelioma after she was exposed to asbestos dust from her husband’s clothing.*
The global asbestos-exposure death toll is estimated at 255,000 people annually.(19) Several thousand people die from asbestos exposure in the home.(20)
At Weitz & Luxenberg, we understand how frustrating it can be to know your asbestos-related disease could be traced to exposure from your job. Many of our clients worked their whole lives just to spend their retirement years dying of a preventable disease. Our firm is committed to helping victims of asbestos exposure and their loved ones hold asbestos companies accountable for the pain and suffering they have caused.
If you were exposed to asbestos or your loved one died of an asbestos-related disease, we would be honored to help you seek the compensation you deserve. Attorneys at Weitz & Luxenberg provide compassionate and exceptional legal support to each of our clients, helping victims of asbestos exposure through a very difficult time.
Our firm’s deep knowledge of worksites across the U.S. has proven a tremendous benefit to our more than 33,000 asbestos clients. We have almost 40 years of experience successfully pinpointing the source of victims’ asbestos exposure.
To learn more about your legal options, call (833) 544-0604 or fill out a form online. Your consultation is free of charge.
* While our past record does not guarantee future success, it is something you may want to consider when evaluating our experience.