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Jonathan Rosenfeld
J.D

March 9, 2023

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Asbestos is a mineral fiber widely used in construction materials until its dangerous health effects were discovered. Prolonged asbestos exposure can lead to serious health problems such as lung cancer and mesothelioma, and it’s essential to understand the risks and take preventative measures to avoid exposure.

meso exposure to asbestos legal help

The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC represent victims injured by hazardous substances, such as exposure to asbestos at work or in the environment.

Contact our mesothelioma lawyers at (888) 424-5757 or use the contact form to schedule a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.

Understanding Asbestos Exposure

According to the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, asbestos was once widely used in building materials due to its insulating and heat-resistant properties. However, when asbestos fibers are inhaled, they can become lodged in the lungs and cause serious health problems.

Sources and Types of Asbestos Fibers

Asbestos fibers are divided into two categories: serpentine and amphibole [1]. Serpentine asbestos fibers have a curly, wavy shape; chrysotile is the most common type. Amphibole asbestos fibers have a straight, needle-like shape and include amosite, crocidolite, tremolite, actinolite, and anthophyllite.

Asbestos can be found in a variety of products, including:

  • Insulation materials, such as pipe and boiler insulation
  • Fireproofing materials, such as spray-on coatings and cement
  • Floor and ceiling tiles
  • Roofing materials
  • Textiles, such as blankets and protective clothing

Health Risks and Dangers of Exposure

Asbestos exposure can lead to many risks and dangers. The most severe health effect is the development of lung cancer or mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs and chest cavity. Asbestos exposure can lead to other respiratory diseases, such as asbestosis and pleural thickening.

It’s important to note that the symptoms of asbestos-associated medical conditions may not appear for many years after exposure. It is why it’s crucial to take preventative measures and avoid asbestos exposure whenever possible.

How Asbestos Exposure Can Lead to Serious Risks

Asbestos exposure can lead to serious health risks, including asbestos-associated diseases like lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis [2]. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral widely used in construction materials such as insulation, roofing, and flooring until the 1980s.

People who work in industries that use or produce materials containing asbestos are at high risk of exposure, including construction workers, shipyard workers, and asbestos miners.

However, even people who do not work in these industries can be exposed to asbestos dust and fibers through secondhand exposure, such as from family members who work in asbestos industries or from living near natural asbestos deposits.

According to the National Cancer Institute, asbestos exposure to dust and fibers can be hazardous because these particles are small enough to be inhaled into the lungs and can cause serious health problems. Once inhaled, asbestos dust/fibers can cause lung scarring, leading to difficulty breathing and decreased lung function.

In addition, hazardous fibers can cause inflammation and damage to the lung, leading to a higher health risk of lung cancer and another asbestos-related disease.

To protect employees from the dangers of asbestos exposure, national and international agencies have developed regulations and guidelines for handling asbestos materials in the workplace.

Asbestos exposure can lead to severe health problems, collectively known as asbestos-related diseases. Understanding the types of asbestos-related illnesses, cancer risk, and symptoms can help individuals recognize and seek medical attention when needed.

mesothelioma exposure to asbestos lawyer

There are several types of asbestos-related diseases, including:

  • Mesothelioma: A rare and aggressive cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, abdomen, and heart
  • Lung Cancer: A cancer that starts in the pulmonary system and can spread to other parts of the body
  • Asbestosis: A chronic lung disease caused by the scarring of lung tissue
  • Pleural Plaques: [3] Thickened patches of scar tissue that form on the lining of the lungs
  • Pleural Effusions: A buildup of fluid in the space between the lungs and the chest wall

Individuals exposed to hazardous fibers, particularly those exposed for an extended period, are at an increased risk for developing asbestos diseases. Other risk factors include smoking, age, and pre-existing lung conditions.

Asbestos-related disease symptoms can take years or even decades to develop after exposure. Some common symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain or tightness [4]
  • Chronic coughing or wheezing
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss

It’s essential to seek medical attention if you have any of these symptoms and have a history of asbestos exposure. Early detection and treatment can help improve outcomes for individuals with asbestos-related diseases.

Occupational Asbestos Exposure

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) [5], asbestos exposure in the workplace is a significant concern for individuals who work with materials containing asbestos. Occupational asbestos exposure can occur in various industries, including construction, shipbuilding, and automotive repair.

Asbestos Exposure in the Workplace

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Asbestos workers exposed to fibers are at an elevated risk of developing asbestos diseases. Exposure can occur through inhalation of airborne fibers or contact with asbestos materials.

Some of the most at-risk occupations for exposure to asbestos include:

  • Construction workers [6]
  • Plumbers and pipefitters
  • Asbestos workers
  • Electricians
  • Insulators
  • Mechanics

Asbestos exposure is most commonly associated with occupational exposure to toxic substances, particularly among individuals who have worked with asbestos.

Long-term exposure to asbestos has been linked to several health risks, including asbestos lung cancer and mesothelioma, listed in the national disease registry.

How Much Asbestos Exposure Leads to Rare Cancer?

The amount of occupational exposure to toxic substances and naturally occurring minerals often determines the severity of asbestos-related diseases. Individuals exposed to significant levels of toxic fibers are at elevated risk of developing asbestos disease.

The 9/11 World Trade Center disaster also resulted in significant environmental exposure to damaged asbestos and blowing asbestos particles, which is of ongoing concern.

Lung function tests can help identify the extent of asbestos-related lung damage, and the American Cancer Society (ACS) [7] offers resources and support for individuals affected by health-related illnesses.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Regulations

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established regulations to protect workers from the hazards of asbestos exposure in the workplace. OSHA’s regulations include:

  • Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) for blowing fibers
  • Requirements for personal protective equipment and respiratory protection
  • Guidelines for safe handling and removal of materials containing asbestos

Employers must train employees who work with asbestos and ensure proper safety procedures are followed to prevent exposure.

  • Workers in construction, shipbuilding, and automotive repair industries are at an elevated risk of occupational asbestos exposure
  • Inhalation of airborne asbestos and contact with materials containing asbestos are the primary means of exposure
  • OSHA has established regulations to protect employees from asbestos exposure in the workplace
  • Employers must train workers and ensure proper safety procedures are followed to prevent exposure.

Environmental Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos exposure can also occur in the environment, even for individuals who do not work directly with materials containing asbestos. Environmental asbestos exposure can occur from natural or man-made sources.

Sources of Environmental Asbestos Exposure

Naturally occurring asbestos can be found in rock and soil in some areas, particularly in areas with deposits of serpentine rock or ultramafic rock. The fibers can be released into the air when these materials are disturbed, such as during construction, excavation [8], or natural disasters.

Man-made sources of environmental asbestos exposure can include the release of fibers from asbestos products, such as insulation, floor tiles, and roofing materials.

Health Risks and Regulations

Exposure to asbestos fibers in the environment can also increase the risk of developing asbestos diseases [9], such as lung diseases, mesothelioma, and asbestosis.

To address the health-related risks associated with environmental asbestos exposure, regulations have been established to limit the release of asbestos fibers into the environment. 

Common Materials Containing Asbestos

Many materials contain fibers and particles from natural asbestos deposits, including:

  • Insulation materials like pipe and furnace insulation
  • Vinyl flooring and adhesive
  • Cement roofing and shingles
  • Plaster, putties, and joint compounds
  • Textured paint and coatings
  • Automobile brake pads and linings
  • Gaskets [10] and packing materials
  • Electrical wiring insulation

Safety Precautions and Regulations for Asbestos-Containing Products

Because asbestos products pose a risk to human health, there are regulations to ensure their safe handling and disposal.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates materials containing asbestos [11] and has developed proper handling, storage, and disposal guidelines. In addition, OSHA has set specific requirements for protecting workers who may be exposed to asbestos materials.

Some safety precautions that can be taken include:

  • Not disturbing or damaging any materials that may contain asbestos
  • Hiring professionals trained to handle asbestos to remove and dispose of any materials containing asbestos
  • Using personal protective equipment when working around asbestos materials

Take precautions when dealing with asbestos products to minimize the risk of exposure and related illnesses.

Managing Risk: When is Asbestos Dangerous?

Asbestos exposure poses a significant risk to human health, but there are ways to manage that risk.

Prevention and Control of Asbestos Exposure

Preventing and controlling asbestos exposure involves identifying asbestos sources, evaluating their associated risks, and implementing appropriate control measures. Some common strategies for preventing and controlling asbestos exposure include:

Worksite Assessments

Worksite assessments involve identifying materials containing asbestos and evaluating the risk of exposure. Worksite assessments are essential in ensuring the safety of workers and individuals who may come into contact with hazardous materials.

Engineering Controls

Engineering controls involve implementing physical barriers, ventilation systems, and other measures to prevent the release of fibers into the air.

Administrative Controls

Administrative controls involve implementing policies and procedures limiting exposure to asbestos materials. Examples of administrative controls include developing work practices that minimize the release of fibers and limiting access to areas where asbestos is present.

Personal Protective Equipment

Personal protective equipment, such as respirators and protective clothing, can provide additional protection for workers who may be exposed to fibers.

Asbestos Removal and Abatement

Asbestos removal and abatement are identifying and removing materials containing asbestos from a building or structure. These processes should be performed by qualified professionals with the appropriate training and equipment to handle asbestos safely.

Some key steps involved in asbestos removal and abatement include:

mesothelioma exposure to asbestos attorney

Inspection and Assessment

The first step in asbestos removal and reduction is to identify the presence of materials containing asbestos and assess the risk of exposure to asbestos.

Containment

During asbestos removal and abatement, the work area must be contained to prevent the release of dust and fibers into the air. It may involve sealing the area with plastic sheeting or using negative air pressure to control the airflow.

Removal

Materials containing asbestos must be carefully removed using specialized equipment and techniques to prevent the release of fibers into the air.

Disposal

Local and federal regulations must dispose of materials containing asbestos. This may involve transporting the materials to a unique disposal site or landfill designed to handle hazardous waste.

Managing asbestos risk requires a multifaceted approach, including prevention and control strategies [12] and safe asbestos removal and abatement practices. By following appropriate safety measures, it is possible to minimize the risk of being exposed to asbestos and protect the health of workers and the general public.

Secondhand Asbestos Exposure: How Much Asbestos Exposure Causes Health Problems?

Asbestos exposure can occur in occupational settings but also in non-occupational environments. Secondhand exposure happens when people come into contact with someone exposed to asbestos fibers.

Secondhand exposure can occur through various sources, including contaminated clothing, home renovation materials, and school or office buildings containing materials containing asbestos.

Risks and Dangers of Secondhand Asbestos Exposure

According to the American Cancer Society, secondhand asbestos exposure poses similar risks and dangers as direct exposure. Even brief exposure to fibers can cause severe and life-threatening diseases such as malignant mesothelioma, lung disease, and asbestosis.

The risk of developing asbestos-associated diseases is higher for those with prolonged or repeated environmental exposure to asbestos fibers. However, any asbestos exposure can increase the risk of developing asbestos-associated diseases.

Protecting Family Members from Asbestos Exposure

Taking precautions when working with asbestos-containing materials is essential to protect family members from secondhand asbestos exposure [13]. Workers should change their clothes and shower before coming home so as not to bring asbestos fibers into their living environment.

If the house contains asbestos-containing materials, a trained professional should properly maintain or remove them. It is also important to educate families about the dangers of asbestos exposure and to seek medical attention if they experience any symptoms associated with asbestos-associated diseases.

Individuals diagnosed with asbestos illnesses such as malignant mesothelioma or asbestosis have legal options. These options can help them obtain compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other damages caused by their exposure to asbestos.

There are several legal options available, such as:

  1. Filing a Lawsuit: An individual can file a lawsuit against the company responsible for their asbestos exposure. It could be the manufacturer of the asbestos-containing product, the employer or the property owner where the individual was exposed to asbestos.
  2. Asbestos Trust Funds: Many companies that produced or used asbestos have set up trust funds to compensate individuals diagnosed with asbestos-related health issues.
  3. Workers’ Compensation: If an individual was exposed to asbestos on the job, they might be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

It is essential to consult an experienced mesothelioma or asbestos attorney to discuss the legal options available and determine the best course of action.

Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with an asbestos-related injury? It’s essential to understand the legal options available to you. Hiring a personal injury lawyer with experience in asbestos exposure cases can help you navigate the legal system and get the compensation you deserve.

Here are some ways that a personal injury lawyer can help with your asbestos exposure-related injury case:

  1. Investigating your case: A personal injury lawyer can investigate your case to determine who is liable for your asbestos exposure. They can determine which companies or individuals may be responsible for your injury and gather evidence to support your case.
  2. Calculating damages: Your lawyer can help you determine the full extent of your damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. They can also estimate future damages, such as ongoing medical treatment and lost future earnings.
  3. Negotiating with insurance companies: Your lawyer can negotiate for a fair settlement for your case. They can use their experience to negotiate with insurance adjusters, who may try to minimize the amount of compensation you receive.
  4. Litigating your case: If a fair settlement cannot be reached, your lawyer can take your case to court. They can represent you before a judge and jury and fight for your deserved compensation.
  5. Providing peace of mind: Dealing with an asbestos exposure-related injury can be stressful and overwhelming. Hiring a personal injury lawyer can provide peace of mind, knowing you have an experienced legal professional.

We have a team of personal injury lawyers with experience in asbestos-exposure-related injury cases at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC.

We offer a free consultation to discuss your case and work on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t pay anything unless we recover compensation for you. Contact us today at (888) 424-5757 to learn how we can help.

Resources: [1] NIH, [2] Cancer.gov, [3] PubMed, [4] PubMed, [5] WHO, [6] NIH, [7] American Cancer Society, [8] PubMed, [9] PubMed, [10] PubMed, [11] Environmental Protection Agency, [12] NIH, [13] NIH

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Jonathan Rosenfeld was professionally objective, timely, and knowledgeable. Also, his advice was extremely effective regarding my case. In addition, Jonathan was understanding and patient pertaining to any of my questions or concerns. I was very happy with the end result and I highly recommend Jonathan Rosenfeld.

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Jonathan did a great job helping my family navigate through a lengthy lawsuit involving my grandmother's death in a nursing home. Through every step of the case, Jonathan kept my family informed of the progression of the case. Although our case eventually settled at a mediation, I really was impressed at how well prepared Jonathan was to take the case to trial.

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