Exposure to asbestos has been known to cause cancer for decades. All forms of asbestos are fibrous mineral materials that are heat-resistant. Asbestos is also resistant to electricity, chemical corrosion, and possesses insulating properties.
Asbestos has been used extensively as insulation and fire proofing material. During the Industrial Revolution, asbestos was used in steam engines and locomotives. Asbestos was used during World War II for many military applications, including as pipe insulation in naval ships. Asbestos was also used as insulation in manufacturing facilities and in homes for many years.
A number of factors led to a delay in realizing the danger. First, industry leaders in the 1920’s chose to suppress information gathered from medical research about the potential health risks of exposure to asbestos. Second, it usually takes decades after exposure for symptoms to develop.
Although skin contact and ingestion can expose a person to risk, the primary route of exposure is through inhalation of particles. Fibers can enter the lungs without causing any overt symptoms. These fibers can pierce the mesothelium, a cell layer that surrounds all internal organs.
The chance of getting an asbestos related illness is dose dependent. Exposure to high concentrations for long periods of time increases the risk of contracting asbestosis, lung cancer, or mesothelioma, which is an aggressive form of lung cancer. In the 1960’s asbestos was discovered as being responsible for mesothelioma.
People working in asbestos mines are exposed to elevated levels of asbestos and are at risk. Others at risk include workers in the fields of asbestos product manufacturing, shipbuilding, construction, and electricity generation.
Secondary exposure also puts people at risk. Accordingly, family members of asbestos workers and people living near asbestos mines have also been diagnosed with asbestos related diseases. Further, smoking greatly increases the risk of contracting asbestos related lung disease.
Today, researchers are fairly confident that they now understand how asbestos causes mesothelioma. Chronic exposure to asbestos triggers a type of tissue repair that puts the immune system out of balance. The fibers cause damage at the cellular level.
The body’s attempt to heal the wound at this cellular level promotes cell growth and sometimes tumors. The tumors can create a microenvironment where the normal immune system attack of tumors by white blood cells is inhibited.
There are now clinical trials underway to test whether treatments that block immune system inhibitors, essentially attempting to rebalance the immune system, can succeed in treating mesothelial cancer.
If you have developed mesothelioma or an asbestos related disease, you should not have to bear the costs of treatment alone. Our firm has handled asbestos cases for years, and we have succeeded in obtaining multimillion-dollar mesothelioma settlements. Contact a Delaware mesothelioma lawyer at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. for a free initial consultation by calling 302-656-5445 or completing our online form. Our offices are located in Wilmington and Georgetown, Delaware and we represent clients throughout the State.