Asbestos is a virtually indestructible but naturally occurring mineral that conducts heat and electricity and is fire and chemical resistant. It has been widely used in manufacturing and included as a material in many home and commercial products for more than a century. It was a common component in many construction products for industrial and commercial applications, particularly in manufacturing plants, refineries, and shipyards. It was used in many different products, including:
- pipe insulation
- ceiling insulation
- fireproof drywall
- lawn furniture
- drywall joint compounds
- brake pads
- brake shoes
Who has been exposed to asbestos?
More than 25 million people were exposed to asbestos at work and at home from 1940 to 1970. Additionally, thousands of men in the U.S. Navy were exposed to equipment covered with asbestos. The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) suggested that no other toxic substance has more clearly demonstrated toxic health effects than has asbestos exposure. Many people do not know that it can take from 10 to 60 years for some asbestos-related diseases to surface. This means people exposed to asbestos decades ago may just now be developing an asbestos-related disease. Not just workers, but also family members of those who worked in and around asbestos were often exposed to dangerous amounts of asbestos.
What types of illnesses are caused by asbestos exposure?
The most common asbestos diseases are malignant mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis. However, asbestos exposure can also cause cancers of the esophagus, larynx, oral cavity, stomach, colon, and rectum as well as a non-cancerous lung condition called pleural disease.
What is mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is an extremely aggressive cancer in which malignant cancer cells are found in the sac that lines the chest, lungs, abdominal cavity or heart. Asbestos exposure is the only known cause of mesothelioma. Because it has a long latency or "incubation" period (as long as 10 to 40 years), workers who were exposed to asbestos fibers before their dangers were publicized in the 1970s are still being diagnosed today. Between 2,500 and 4,000 Americans are diagnosed with mesothelioma every year.
Did the asbestos industry know about the dangers of asbestos?
Yes–manufacturers of asbestos-containing products knowingly exposed workers for decades. Many companies using asbestos-containing products knowingly exposed workers for decades. Sworn testimony and court documents from the industry over the years reflect callous and intentional disregard of the safety of those working in and around asbestos.
The asbestos manufactures not only failed to warn workers and their families and consumers of asbestos dangers, but in many cases actively concealed them. If the industry had been concerned with the lives, health, and safety of American workers and their loved ones, countless asbestos-related deaths, diseases, and disabilities would have never happened. Companies disregarded public and worker health and safety in favor of increased profits.
Is money compensation available to victims of asbestos exposure?
Yes—while many corporate asbestos defendants are no longer in business, many viable companies remain. Money from insurance coverage, reinsurers, bankruptcy trusts, and company assets is still available to compensate victims of asbestos-related diseases. While there are applicable time deadlines, eligibility requirements, and other evidentiary requirements, many exposure victims can receive money compensation for asbestos-related diseases. If you think you or a loved one have been exposed to asbestos, find out if you have a claim.