Asbestos has been used a great deal in the United States and elsewhere. As a result, many asbestos-containing products remain in buildings, ships, industrial facilities and other environments. In such places the fibers can become airborne, and create the serious human health hazards of inhaling asbestos fibers.
Many Americans believe that use of asbestos in products was banned years ago. The fact is that asbestos-containing products are still being imported and sold in this country, continuing to endanger people who may come in contact with them.
Because asbestos disease can take decades for symptoms to present themselves, the list of places where people were exposed continues to grow around the country.
- A majority of asbestos products are imported from Canada and Mexico, two countries where asbestos is still used.
- Not all imported asbestos-containing products are clearly labeled with proper content information.
- As a result of examining building practices in the U.S. following the 9/11 collapse of the World Trade Center towers, the EPA’s Office of Inspector General reported that asbestos is still a product very much around us.
A survey in the mid-1980s found that, on average, 20% of all buildings in the United States contain asbestos. The report confirmed that asbestos containing material is still allowed in pipeline wrap, asbestos-cement corrugated sheet, asbestos-cement flat sheet, roofing felt, millboard, vinyl-asbestos floor tile, asbestos-cement shingle, and roof coatings.
The reality is:
- Asbestos remains a significant public health hazard
- The search for a cure for the cancers asbestos exposure causes remains intense
- Legislative attempts to ban its use completely in the U.S. and properly compensate victims of exposure remain a priority of those affected and the legal professionals who represent them
Many uses of asbestos have been banned or virtually eliminated in the United States for almost three decades, although about 1,000 tons of raw asbestos fibers are still used each year. However, because diseases caused by asbestos exposure such as lung cancer and mesothelioma can take up to 40 or more years before they develop (see section on diagnosis), it is critical to properly identify the occupations, industries and locations where asbestos exposure has been known to be an issue.
Knowledge of your exposure circumstances is critical
- Medical: Type, proximity and duration of exposure all are factors in the diagnosis of asbestos-exposure disease. Every moment sooner an asbestos-related disease is diagnosed can positively impact the victim’s survival outlook.
- Legal: If you have been a victim of asbestos exposure, you are likely entitled to compensation from those responsible. Knowing precisely who, what, where, when, why and how are all critical to the successful presentation of your case.
Most mesothelioma cases are the result of workplace or location–related asbestos exposure.
By one estimate, nearly 80 percent of mesothelioma cases are easily proven to be the direct result of primary asbestos fiber exposure that was:
- Occupational: at the victim’s place of work
- Paraoccupational: contracted by a family member or friend of an individual working in an “at risk” occupation
- Location-related: caused by contamination of a residential neighborhood’s air by nearby asbestos-containing sites such as refineries, power plants, factories, shipyards, steel mills or buildings that were demolished