Until the late 1970s, asbestos was used widely in many industries throughout the United States. It was also contained in many products. Back then, not much was known about the widespread impact that asbestos could have, and workplace rules that could ensure workers’ safety were not required by law. But asbestos can be dangerous and deadly – even decades after exposure.
Even if you have never worked with asbestos directly, it may lurk where you least expect it. Asbestos fibers can be released into the environment when buildings that contained it are renovated or destroyed. Even the family members of those exposed to asbestos may be at risk, as well as anyone living in an area with large, disturbed asbestos deposits.
Asbestos Use Was Widespread
Asbestos was used in a large number of products, some of which may still be around, including the following:
- Wall-patching materials
- Steam pipes
- Wall board
- Furnaces and furnace ducts
- Floor and ceiling tiles
- Roofing and shingles
- Wood-burning stoves
- Gas fireplaces
- Car brakes, clutches, and gaskets
- Railroad engines
Asbestos was also an ingredient in many personal products, such as:
- Ironing board covers
- Cooking pot handles
- Hair dryers
- Fireproof gloves
Many Occupations Were Affected
It is frightening, but anyone who worked for a long period of time in certain industries in the 1970s or earlier may be at risk for asbestos-related illnesses. Industries where workers are at highest risk include milling, mining, and those that make and install materials containing asbestos. The affected occupations include, but may not be limited to:
- Aircraft mechanics
- Auto mechanics
- Railroad workers
- Building engineers
- Boiler operators
- Construction workers
- Shipyard workers
Most people have become aware in recent years that long-term exposure to asbestos can cause mesothelioma, a rare but deadly type of cancer. But there are numerous other diseases and conditions that asbestos exposure can cause. These may include:
- Asbestosis – This progressive pulmonary disease inhibits lung health and function. As the disease progresses, breathing becomes difficult and painful. There is no cure, but progression can be halted, and most symptoms can be eased with medication and oxygen supplementation.
- Clubbed Fingers – Approximately half of people who have severe asbestosis will develop clubbed fingers. The fingers become misshapen and swollen, and the changes are permanent.
- Laryngeal Cancer – Usually caused by the combination of smoking and alcohol consumption, this type of cancer is rare. In 2012 it was confirmed that asbestos exposure also causes cancer of the larynx. Prognoses vary.
- Ovarian Cancer – In 2012, a study by the IARC – the International Agency for Research on Cancer – confirmed that asbestos exposure can cause this rare cancer. Many cases have been documented in women whose husband or father worked with asbestos. Some cases were connected to asbestos-tainted talc. Survival rates vary.
- Lung Cancer – The risk of lung cancer, which is the abnormal cell growth of lung tissues, is seven times higher than that of the general population, especially in patients with a significant history of smoking.
- Pleural Effusion – This condition occurs when excessive fluids build up in the pleural space, which is the are between the lungs and the chest wall.
- Pleural Plaque – With this condition, the tissue around the lungs and diaphragm thickens and hardens.
- Mesothelioma – This disease may have the most widely recognized connection to asbestos exposure. It is a cancer that effects the mesothelial cells lining the lung, chest cavity, abdominal cavity, or heart cavity.
Although the list above is extensive, there are other cancers that are also sometimes associated with asbestos exposure. They include cancers of the pancreas, esophagus, colon, kidney, omentum (the fatty tissue later that covers the lower abdomen), and tunica vaginalis (the inner lining of the testicular sac).
The most tragic fact about the diseases and conditions that result from asbestos exposure is that they could have been prevented. Those who suffer from the effects of asbestos exposure, some of which can be fatal, will have extraordinary costs to deal with – both financial and emotional. If you or a loved one has suffered from asbestos-related disease, you have a right to full compensation for your financial costs, and for your pain and suffering.
Delaware Asbestos Lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. Fight for Those Affected by Asbestos Exposure
If you or someone you love is suffering or has died because of an asbestos-related disease, we can help. Our experienced Delaware asbestos lawyers will evaluate your claim for free to determine whether you have an actionable case. We will work tirelessly to secure the financial compensation you need now and for the future. To arrange a free consultation in our Wilmington or Georgetown office, call Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. today at 302-656-5445 or 800-355-1818, or contact us online. We represent individuals and families in Dover and throughout upstate and downstate Delaware.