Asbestos is Not a Thing of the Past: It Still Injures and Kills

by Terry Bryant

The first reported asbestos-induced disease was identified in London before World War I from an asbestos textile worker. An autopsy identified the presence of the fibers in the worker’s lungs. But it wasn’t until 1924 when the first case of “asbestosis” was reported in medical journals. Many asbestos manufacturers were aware of the serious health issues surrounding asbestos in the 1930s and 1940s, but the information was kept secret from their workers and the general public. Fast-forward to the 1960s, when overwhelming evidence clearly indicated that asbestos fibers posed dangerous, fatal medical risks.

Finally, in the 1970s, the U.S. federal government began regulating asbestos through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Over the years, these standards have become stricter; as the 1980s unfolded, asbestos began disappearing from manufactured products. Mesothelioma (cancer) gets its name from the thin layer of tissue which covers many of our internal organs (known as the mesothelium). The most common area affected by this disease is the lining of the lungs and thoracic (chest) wall.

Even though many consumer products no longer contain fibrous asbestos, it is still used in many products that are sold in the U.S., some of them imported from other countries. EPA bans do not apply to all products, such as commercial insulation (1% asbestos is allowed). And since asbestos is clearly identified as a cause of mesothelioma, we must all be attentive to some of these more common products.

Vehicle Parts

Brake pads, most non-hydraulic clutches, and many gaskets can contain asbestos — and not just in cars. Motorcycles, trucks, and other vehicle parts also contain asbestos. Because it is universally used in vehicle repairs, mechanics run a greater risk of developing mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer.

Talc

Many personal hygiene and makeup products contain talcum powder as a moisture absorbent. Talc deposits are a natural byproduct of asbestos. Mined talc can easily be contaminated with asbestos.

In 2016, a popular retailer had an asbestos-related recall for their kids’ makeup. Several talcum powder lawsuits blamed asbestos-contaminated talc for causing mesothelioma; these have circulated in civil courts across the U.S for almost 20 years. The products were alleged to be free of asbestos, but that claim was proved false in civil trials. The makers of these products ended up paying hundreds of millions of dollars to many meso-cancer victims of these dangerous talcum powder products.

Construction Materials

Asbestos remains a major danger for construction workers and homeowners alike. Many homes built before 1980 have been found to contain asbestos in flooring, paint, plaster, and insulation. When they are demolished, all workers must wear approved safety gear and masks with activated charcoal filters. If your home is over 35 years old and you’re uncertain how to protect your family from asbestos exposure, find a professional to help make your home safe.

Fire Safety Products

Many products which are fireproofed contain asbestos fibers, a natural fire-retardant. But when exposed to heat or an open flame, asbestos fumes are released into the air and breathed in – thereby raising one’s risk of the deadly mesothelioma, asbestosis, or lung cancer. These fireproofed products include fire blankets, fire curtains, and spray-on fireproof coatings. So check product labels when you buy them, and use them only in a dire emergency.

Science Laboratory Equipment

Fire safety in the lab involves fireproof gloves or jackets. This makes it imperative to be aware of the risk of asbestos exposure. Some hoods and tabletops may also contain asbestos. Use caution when working in a scientific laboratory. This applies to lab workers and those who clean them.

Fertilizer

Like talcum powder, fertilizer doesn’t purposefully contain asbestos. But many fertilizers and potting soil products use a mineral known as vermiculite. This element can contain asbestos fibers. So, if you use gardening products and this mineral is on the ingredients label, use caution, wear a mask, and avoid inhaling dust from the soil, to avoid asbestos fiber exposure.

If you or a family member has been injured by an asbestos-related product, the attorneys at Terry Bryant Accident Lawyers can help. Call us at (800) 444-5000 or send us a note using this contact form.