The Most Common Form of Asbestos Exposure
Both construction workers and members of the military came into direct contact with asbestos fibers in the years between 1930 and 1980. During that time period, asbestos seemed like a miracle material which was capable of resisting fire and certain chemicals.
It wasn’t until the 1980’s that anyone began to understand the long-term health problems connected to inhaling the fibers. Even when the danger became apparent, many companies and organizations continued using asbestos.
Because of its widespread use, exposure is a threat to everyone. While occupational exposure is the most common cause of mesothelioma development, exposure can also happen at home, in public buildings, in the military— even in nature. Second-hand exposure has also led to mesothelioma development in later years. If you or a loved one was ever directly or indirectly exposed, it is wise to keep a close eye on your health and talk to your physician about routine screening.
History of Asbestos Use in the U.S.
For years, the only people who were exposed to asbestos were miners; it wasn’t until the 1930’s and ‘40’s that the fibrous mineral started to be used in a wide assortment of industries that ran the gauntlet from auto care products to construction materials.
The group most likely to develop mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses are military veterans, especially those who served in the Navy during and after WWII.
The Navy even used the asbestos-laden products in ships and submarines in an attempt to reduce the risk of fire. No one dreamt that the same thing being used to preserve lives would later put those same lives in jeopardy.
Naval shipyard workers and sailors aren’t the only groups of people who have an increased risk of developing mesothelioma. Others who should be getting regular screenings include:
- Railroad workers
- Factory workers
- Construction workers
- Insulation workers
- Automotive workers
- Power plant/refinery workers
- Family members of the above
The Price of Greed
Even after the dangers of asbestos became known, many corporations and manufacturers worked to keep the information from the public. They willingly put their workers, the workers’ families, and the public at risk to maintain the popularity of their products and their own wealth.
As a result, people who have developed asbestos-related illnesses such as mesothelioma can hold these companies accountable. By contacting a mesothelioma attorney, patients can open several doors to financial compensation which can then help cover treatment, travel, and living expenses. This compensation can come from either a claim against an asbestos trust fund set up by companies who claimed Chapter 11 Bankruptcy for protection from lawsuits or by suing companies and manufacturers who are not protected by bankruptcy.
Some patients hesitate to pursue legal options, but it is important to remember that treatment, lost wages due to treatment, and other expenses are directly the fault of companies who willingly spread asbestos. Patients deserve compensation and a lighter financial burden— they are already paying the price for someone else’s greed.
The Decline of Asbestos
Believe it or not, it’s actually not possible to say that asbestos is no longer being used in the United States because it is still in use in several different types of products and materials. There are however regulations in place that determine how the asbestos is used in commercial products. The regulations first started to be enforced in the 1980’s when people began to fully comprehend how much danger the asbestos fibers presented after they have been inhaled.
Today the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been tasked with keeping employees safe from a wide assortment of risks, including asbestos. The regulations have triggered a decrease in the number of mesothelioma cases.
Asbestos has once again made it into mainstream media as current legislature debates whether to allow ‘new and improved’ forms of asbestos to be tested and considered for commercial use in the US. Many countries have outright banned the use of any asbestos, but the US has yet to take such measures.
A Threat Still Exists
No one should assume they no longer have to worry about asbestos exposure. Until the use of asbestos is banned entirely in the United States there will always be a chance of asbestos-related conditions developing. Today, most of the asbestos used by U.S. companies has been imported.
Additionally, buildings and ships manufactured before the 1980s (and a little after) carry the risk of having asbestos products within. Anything from that time period should be subject to a safety inspection before any potential renovations to ensure that you aren’t inadvertently exposing your household or workers.
Why Is Occupational Exposure So Prevalent?
Fire Resistance and Insulation
The fire resistant nature of asbestos made it a popular choice for insulation which caused many electrical wires to be wrapped in the mineral. It was also found in nearly all brands of insulation at the time when asbestos was popular. Most of these materials were used in commercial buildings and on construction sites, in shipyards, and on ships.
It’s use by the Armed Forces
Many former naval personnel who either served on ships or worked in naval yards have developed asbestos-related health problems since the military used asbestos for just about everything. Members of the other armed forces branches are also at-risk, but development is more prevalent among Navy veterans
Where is Asbestos Found?
Materials that contain asbestos include:
- Boilers and heating systems
- Cement pipes
- Several automotive parts including brake pads
- Electrical wires
- Chemical containment containers
- Heat-protective pads
- Roofing and flooring materials
- Adhesives and sealants
- Insulation products
- Paper products
- Old buildings
Although there are regulations in place that restrict where, how, and the type of asbestos used, it’s still fairly common and you should be aware of the dangers.
Individuals who were exposed to asbestos in the past and who have developed mesothelioma are entitled to receive compensation from the same companies that exposed them to the asbestos thanks to the creation and access to asbestos trust funds. Find out if you’re eligible to access these funds.