After battling with flu like symptoms, shortness of breath, and fatigue you decide to consult a doctor who quickly sends you to see a specialist. After your consultation, examination, and testing you receive the dreaded news: a mesothelioma diagnosis. But how did this happen? Asbestos exposure causes mesothelioma but you may or may not remember, or even know, how you were exposed to the deadly mineral asbestos. You will need time to emotionally process what has happened to you, time to speak with your family, and time to begin to think clearly what course of action you wish to pursue.
If you are worried about the high cost of mesothelioma medical care and treatment and if you want to seek justice by holding those parties accountable for your asbestos exposure, then your next step could be to contact a law firm that specializes in asbestos law. Together you and your representatives will investigate your asbestos exposure to uncover where you were exposed to asbestos, how you were exposed, and why you were exposed. In order to do this and provide your representatives with as much pertinent information as possible, you must first understand asbestos.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a Greek word that translates to indestructible or inextinguishable. It is a mineral that has been mined for hundreds of years in countries around the world. Its greatest value was as a material that could withstand very high temperatures. In addition, asbestos has extremely high tensile strength and is inexpensive to produce making it a key material, manufactured for decades, into everything from boiler room pipe lining to brake pads for your car.
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the EPA have determined that asbestos is a human carcinogen and there is no safe level of asbestos exposure. According to WHO: “all forms of asbestos, including chrysotile, are carcinogenic to humans.” Yet inexplicably asbestos remains legal in the United States, tragically impacting families. An estimated 10,000+ Americans die every year from preventable asbestos-caused diseases. “Without adequate regulations, Americans cannot determine or manage consumer, environmental and occupational asbestos risk,” states the Environmental Working Group, an organization that monitors the safety of U.S. products.
What are Asbestos Fibers, Asbestos Dust?
When it comes to protecting yourself and your loved ones from harm, asbestos poses a challenging and lethal threat. Asbestos exposure most often occurs when asbestos is smashed, crushed, hit with a hammer, an axe, or any tool with the purpose of breaking up the material. Breaking apart asbestos sends asbestos dust into the air. This dust is comprised of tiny asbestos fibers, that when inhaled, can find their way into the body’s vital organs, especially the lungs, where it silently begins damaging the body.
But what do you do when there is a threat that you cannot see, feel, taste or smell? How do you protect yourself? How do you protect your family? You can’t. It’s impossible. That is the frightening truth about asbestos dust and the fibers contained within.
In some cases, asbestos fibers can be up to 700 times smaller than a human hair, according to an Oregon State University asbestos fact sheet. Some asbestos can be seen as dust. But due to its microscopic size, asbestos fibers can also be invisible to the human eye. Not only can you not see the fibers, it is odorless, tasteless and indestructible.
According to the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, Asbestos fibers do not evaporate into air or dissolve in water. Small diameter fibers and particles may remain suspended in the air for a long time and be carried long distances by wind or water before settling down. Larger diameter fibers and particles tend to settle more quickly.
Asbestos fibers generally do not break down to other compounds and will remain virtually unchanged over long periods.
Where Did I Fall Victim to Asbestos Exposure?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) about 125 million people in the world are exposed to asbestos in the workplace.
If you can’t see or smell or taste asbestos, how do you know if it is in a product you are working with? You don’t. Your asbestos exposure could be a result of your workplace environment, products that you used while performing your job, chemicals you handled, or parts that were contained within machinery you used in the workplace. Some of the most dangerous occupations for asbestos exposure include:
- Construction worker
- Auto mechanic
- Home Inspector
- Shipyard worker
- Cement plant worker
- Chemical plant worker
- Drywall installer
The location of where you work and live is also a major factor in how you were exposed to asbestos. According to insurance industry statistics, the following five states are home to the most asbestos-connected deaths—and also present more asbestos exposure risks:
- New York
In addition, the following states have 50% to 100% higher asbestos related death rates than the national average:
- West Virginia
Secondary Asbestos Exposure Victims
One of the saddest truths about asbestos exposure is the fact that many victims were exposed while never working near or handling asbestos at a job site. Secondary asbestos exposure occurs when a worker, who has handled or been exposed to asbestos, brings home asbestos, dust particles-fibers, on their work clothes. The simple loving act of a wife washing her husband’s asbestos contaminated clothes over the course of time has been enough for that person to become a victim of asbestos exposure leading to a fatal mesothelioma disease. Likewise, children of workers were often exposed to asbestos on an ongoing basis by simply greeting their parent after a long day on the job.
For the past ten years, there have been roughly 2,500 cases of mesothelioma diagnosed annually in the United States. Nearly 10% of those cases are in California. So that means approximately 250 mesothelioma diagnoses in California every year. Consequently, of those 250 mesothelioma cases in California, about seven percent or eight percent involve a secondary or take-home component.
Mesothelioma Circle’s Mission
Our mission at Mesothelioma Circle is to provide a go-to resource for patients and their families. We do this by providing breaking news on mesothelioma clinical trials, mesothelioma treatments, medical industry updates, and a vast library of health tip articles. Whether you are a newly diagnosed patient or a patient going through treatment, we have the information that can help you and your family navigate through the most important questions that need to be answered.