For a few decades, the general public has known about the danger surrounding asbestos, but many injury lawyers believe that researchers were aware of the problem long before public awareness. In fact, several industries and even the U.S. government have been criticized for keeping people in the dark regarding the dangers of the material. This criticism was well-founded in the 1970s when court documents showed that members of the asbestos mining and manufacturing industries knew about the health hazards as far back as the 1930s. As a result, many people have been wrongfully harmed due to corporate greed.
WHAT MAKES THIS MATERIAL SO DANGEROUS?
In general, the material is only hazardous when disturbed, but there are many places in the home where asbestos may be found. Lawyers who oversee these cases know how easy it is for a person to be exposed, and how long exposure can go on before anyone notices. And chronic exposure is the real danger.
This substance is an extremely efficient insulator because it is made up of thousands of tiny crystal fibers. The fibers are mixed with other building materials, imparting the insulating properties into them. Because it is so easy to mix the fibers with other materials, asbestos has been used in roofing shingles and siding, pipe and boiler insulation, wall and ceiling texture, resilient floor tiles, door gaskets, and in a variety of appliances. It is also mixed into automobile and aircraft brake pads and linings for friction and heat resistance.
For years, the substance may not present a danger, but as soon as it is disturbed, it will release the harmful fibers into the air. The fibers are so light that they may be suspended for a long period of time, moving through the air on currents put out by a climate control unit. Once a person inhales the fibers, they are at risk of significant medical complications.
When these fibers are breathed in, they settle in the lungs and become embedded in tissues surrounding the lungs, heart and abdomen. Naturally, this provokes an immune response by the body, sending macrophages to the fiber in an attempt to digest it. They will fail though, creating more inflammation and a buildup of scar tissue around the fiber. Over years, this mass of tissue will grow, and if the mass becomes cancerous, it is a condition known as mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma caused by asbestos is something that lawyers see with worrying frequency. There is no cure for the cancer and surgery is typically too risky to perform. It is also usually fatal within months of diagnosis, making it one of the most deadly cancers known to man. It’s an overwhelming diagnosis and can immediately throw a family into a powerful sense of uncertainty. Mesothelioma typically prevents a victim from continuing work, and mounting medical costs can create a financial burden on a family in what may amount to the victim’s final months. For this reason, many families seek legal assistance, because even though a financial settlement won’t provide closure, it will help a victim provide for their medical care and their family, even after they have passed.