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Asbestos Overview

Asbestos Exposure

Occupations At Risk

Asbestos Containing Products

Manufacturers and Distributors

Shipyard Asbestos Exposure Sites

Asbestos Exposure
An individual is exposed to asbestos by inhaling fibers for an extended or short period of time. A person's exposure can be relatively short, or more often, occur for years while working with asbestos products without the full knowledge of the harmful effects of this mineral. Since the early twentieth century, it is estimated that around eight million people in the United States have been exposed to asbestos.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a term associated with a group of fibrous minerals that form in rocks. These rocks are often found and mined from various points across the world and are used to create thousands of manufacturing and building products. Asbestos is featherweight and won't burn, degrade, or react to chemicals, making it indestructible for all practical purposes. The strength, flexibility and fibrous nature of asbestos made it suitable for use in a wide variety of products.
Asbestos exposure is the cause of mesothelioma cancer. In the medical community today, it is widely recognized as the only cause of mesothelioma.
How Does Exposure Occur?
Often used in manufactured products, asbestos fibers were widely used as building and base materials for thousands of products. From cement pipes to boiler insulation to adhesives and roofing tiles, asbestos fibers can be even carried on your skin, clothing or hair, and one can be exposed through working with or around these materials for even short periods of time.
Although useful for insulation, asbestos is hazardous to those who are exposed to its fibrous state. Often when the products are used, and certainly when the integrity of any asbestos-containing material is damaged, the asbestos fibers become airborne, float into the air, and are inhaled or ingested by those in the breathing zone. Many victims have no idea that they are ingesting the microscopic fibers because they have no odor or taste.
Where Does Asbestos Come From?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral in nature. It is found within rock and quarries around the world. One of the leading distributors of asbestos and related products is Canada, whose asbestos is responsible for countless cases of asbestos-related cancers and mesothelioma. Other important distributors include South Africa, Russia, China, Kazakhstan and even the United States. While many countries around the world have banned the use of asbestos, many countries continue even today to mine and export the deadly mineral.
Within the United States, countless products have traces of asbestos in them. For example, one of the most widely documented cases was of a vermiculite mine in Libby, Montana. The mineral vermiculite was historically added to potting soil, insulation, plaster, concrete and other commercial and consumer products. For over 70 years, the industrial based conglomerate W.R. Grace produced most of the world's supply of vermiculite. It has been shown that for decades they compromised the lives of mineworkers and Libby residents as a result of their vermiculite mine that was contaminated with asbestos.
People at Risk of Asbestos Exposure
Most people who develop asbestos-related disease and/or asbestos cancer, such as malignant mesothelioma, worked in an industry where asbestos dust was common.
After the Great Depression, asbestos use peaked because of its inexpensive and easy availability. Between the 1940s and the 1970s, thousands of products were manufactured using asbestos, and millions of workers were exposed to the deadly fibers. It is estimated that 125 million workers throughout the world have been exposed to asbestos on the job. These professions include construction workers, military personnel, shipyard workers, automobile repair workers, heavy machine operators, firefighters, refinery employees, and people who worked with air conditioning and heating systems, to name a few.
Asbestos was released in many ways such sanding, sawing, mixing, cutting and/or grinding asbestos-containing products. Once released into the air, these asbestos fibers were inhaled by nearby workers. Often they brought the asbestos home to their families via their clothing, skin and hair.
Although inhalation and secondary exposure are considered the most common basis for exposure, other disasters pose potential hazards. This was seen with victims exposed during the aftermath of 9/11. In 2006, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported that 62 percent of the people who were exposed to the toxic dust thrown up by the 9/11 attack are already dealing with respiratory issues. The people at highest risk for mesothelioma and other asbestos cancers from 9/11 asbestos exposure include firefighters, paramedics, police officers, construction and demolition workers, Ground Zero volunteers and people who lived or worked nearby.
What Are the Results of Asbestos Exposure?
Although the hope is that there are no results from an exposure to asbestos, as mesothelioma shows us, some people can contract mesothelioma, even from a limited exposure to asbestos.
Anyone who has been exposed to asbestos, particularly those working with the material, would likely benefit from learning more about the harmful effects of asbestos and mesothelioma. Once a certain level of asbestos exposure occurs, an individual will always be at risk for developing malignant mesothelioma. A number of factors impact an exposed person's risk for asbestos-related diseases, including:
  • How much asbestos one was exposed to
  • How long one was exposed for
  • How often one was exposed
  • The type of asbestos one was exposed to
With the long latency period of mesothelioma, it can take up to 40 years or more after the initial exposure for the disease to develop. In cases where mesothelioma does occur, those exposed to asbestos are eligible for compensation.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact the experienced attorneys at Coady Law to guide you through the process to ensure you receive fair compensation for medical bills, lost wages, loss of consortium, pain and suffering.

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