Those unfamiliar with mesothelioma may have first heard the term on the news or on television commercials years ago. People who are familiar with mesothelioma know that it is directly linked to asbestos exposure. Asbestos was a commonly used building material, so construction workers are often affected by its harmful effects.
The first person who made the connection between asbestos and cancer was by a German researcher, H.W. Wedler. He found that 20 percent of German asbestos workers developed cancer, including mesothelioma. In 1960, an important study was published in the British Journal of Medicine. The researchers shared information about 33 mesothelioma cases that were found in Cape Province in South Africa, where the residents were exposed to crocidolite asbestos mining.
Even though manufacturing companies were aware of the risks, they kept it from the general public. It was not until the late 1900’s that people began to learn about the dangers of asbestos. Currently in the United States, it is not frequently used in construction, but the risks are still there.
Florida’s Moffitt Cancer Center listed construction as one of the highest-risk occupations for getting mesothelioma. A study from Italy analyzed 952 mesothelioma cases, and 25 percent of them were construction workers. Even though the use of asbestos declined in the 1980s, construction workers are still at risk for asbestos exposure. Demolition and renovation projects on older buildings can subject these workers to asbestos when the material is exposed to air or even touched by someone’s fingernails.
Asbestos is a strong, durable, fire-resistant material that works effectively for sheetrock, bricks, shingles, sidings, steel beams, cement, and other materials. It is used in commercial and residential buildings and even in household appliances, like toasters. Problems occur when construction workers that are handling asbestos are not protected.
Since asbestos is flaky and tiny, sharp fibers easily break off and enter the air. It can then contaminate the oxygen that enters the body. The fibers have sharp, pointed edges that can damage sensitive tissue in the body. Three of the most vulnerable areas are the pericardium, the pleura, and the peritoneum; the pericardium lines the heart, the pleura separates the chest and lung cavity, and the peritoneum covers the abdominal cavity.
When asbestos fibers enter one of the three membranes, they can get stuck in the lining and irritate the cells. This can lead to cellular mutation that can form mesothelioma tumors. This process can have a latency period up to 70 years; this is the main reason why construction workers with mesothelioma have difficulties proving that their occupation caused the disease. Early diagnosis techniques have not been perfected, and the cancer is considered uncurable.
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or any other job-related illness, you may be eligible for compensation. Our knowledgeable Georgetown mesothelioma lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar will provide you legal guidance about your case and fight to protect your rights. Contact us online or call us at 302-656-5445 for a free consultation. Located in Wilmington, Delaware, we also serve clients in Dover, New Castle County, and Sussex County.