Many Americans have come to suffer from asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma. But few are even aware of what the substance is and how it is still affecting Americans today.
Your national asbestos lawyers at Hotze Runkle PLLC would like to shed some light on this infamous material and how 1000s of individuals are still being diagnosed with mesothelioma each year in the United States.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral with a thread-like structure that can make it stronger than steel. It’s durable design, as well as its resistance to heat, electricity and chemical corrosion, made it a go-to item in construction and consumer products.
Unfortunately, it was ultimately discovered that the mineral was highly carcinogenic. Having been used for decades, this was troubling news for thousands of Americans.
A Brief Overview of Asbestos Use in the United States
Asbestos first came into use in the late 1800s as a response to the Industrial Revolution. From then on, the use of asbestos in the industry grew as manufacturing expanded. During this time, asbestos was used heavily for insulation, from homes to oil refineries and everywhere in between.
World War II was another turning point for the use of asbestos. The military created a massive demand for it, using it in military equipment, bases, and transportation. After the war, the use of asbestos continued to expand as the carcinogenic material was used in homes, appliances, and in the construction industry.
The height of production of asbestos was in the 1960s. By 1973, 813,000 tons were being used annual. Many commercial products were made with it, even common household products such as baby powder and children’s’ toys had traces of asbestos.
It wasn’t until the late 1970s and 80s that the American public was finally told about how dangerous the material was.
Individuals and professions who experienced the worst asbestos exposure included:
- Heavy industry
- Asbestos product manufacturing
It’s worth noting that family members of individuals who worked in these industries were also susceptible to the effects of asbestos. Workers often, and unknowingly, brought home these tiny fibers on their clothing and tools, spreading asbestos around their homes where they were absorbed by family members.
The Effect of Asbestos Exposure
Asbestos fibers can stay airborne for 72 hours, even remaining afloat in a room with no air movement.
The fibers are essentially invisible to the naked eye, cannot be felt or even tasted, and this is where the danger lies. Individuals can inhale massive amounts of asbestos fibers without ever realizing it.
These asbestos fibers can then stick to the lining of the lungs, where the body reacts by forming a scar tissue over them. As the scar tissue accumulates, tumors can begin to grow. Sometimes, the damage caused by asbestos exposure is irreversible.
Asbestos-related diseases can take decades (20-50 years) to develop and it can be just as long before any symptoms arise in the victim. This can affect diagnosis and treatment.
One of the most dangerous diseases caused by asbestos is mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is a form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure. In the United States, 3,000 individuals are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year.
Will Asbestos Ever Be Banned in America?
The EPA has passed laws such as the Clean Air and Clean Water Act to help regulate asbestos use. In 1989, the EPA made a law banning all asbestos products, however, it was overturned after an intense court battle.
Another federal agency that has worked to get rid of asbestos products is the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). They have made it mandatory for companies to control access to places where asbestos is being used and to also regulate the levels of asbestos fibers circulating the air.
The Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA) oversees levels of asbestos in commercial products. They do recall and create bans on products with levels that can pose danger to consumers. Toys, crayons, talcum, paints, patching compounds and more have all been recalled or even banned for noticeable traces of asbestos.
Despite efforts made to limit the use of the carcinogenic material, there have been recent discussions about allowing companies to once again use the substance in the United States. The Environmental Protection Agency recently proposed that there be no limitation on the use of asbestos.
The new rule goes that the manufacturers must alert the EPA and seek approval if they are trying to use asbestos in products.
Despite all the pain and suffering many victims and families have suffered as a direct result of asbestos-related diseases and mesothelioma, it appears that the substance may make a comeback.
Did you face exposure to asbestos in the workplace? Get compensated for your pain and suffering with the help of national asbestos litigation lawyers at Hotze Runkle PLLC.
Contact Hotze Runkle PLLC today at (512) 476-7771 to learn more about your ability to seek a legal claim against the parties that caused you damage. Your pain deserves a voice.