The Mechanics of Asbestos Exposure
The natural breakdown of asbestos products and subsequent sawing or cutting of the asbestos creates dust and fibers that are inhaled and can lead to mesothelioma and other severe forms of lung cancer. Unlike some other ingested toxins which may be flushed from the body over time, asbestos fibers usually remain embedded in the lungs.
When asbestos fibers are released into the air, they can be trapped in the lungs and cause scarring and inflammation.
Secondary exposure is also possible through fibers traveling on a Norfolk Western worker’s clothing. Due to health concerns, all new uses of asbestos were banned in July 1989.
Frequency of Asbestos Related Illness
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) all consider asbestos a known carcinogen.
Each year hundreds of men and women are diagnosed with lung cancer, pulmonary fibrosis and mesothelioma—asbestos-related illnesses potentially due to past asbestos exposure. The vast majority of those who develop lung cancer and mesothelioma worked in an environment where asbestos was present.
Workplaces overseen by Norfolk Western may have been filled with toxic materials, and employers may have failed to warn of the serious health risks of the job. Examples of Asbestos related illness include:
- Mesothelioma Cancer
- Lung Cancer
- Esophageal Cancer
- Colorectal Cancer
- Pulmonary Fibrosis
Adenocarcinoma Lung Cancer & Asbestos Exposure
Although adenocarcinoma lung cancer is associated with smoking, studies indicate exposure to asbestos may cause this form of deadly cancer. Inhaling asbestos fibers at the workplace over months or years put individuals at high risk for developing adenocarcinoma lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis. In terms of duration or dose, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has concluded that there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos.
Common Areas of Asbestos Exposure
Most deaths from malignant mesothelioma in the United States are the result of exposures to asbestos decades prior. However, the continuing occurrence of mesothelioma deaths among persons under the age of 55 suggests ongoing occupational and environmental exposures to asbestos fibers.
Asbestos can be found in factories, homes built before 1980, construction sites, and in many military installations. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), there are 75 different jobs that could have exposed workers to asbestos, with those jobs primarily involving construction and manufacturing. Thousands of American workers are still affected by asbestos each year.
Our Firm can help you identify the exposure sources and then initiate the proper claims so that will provide the security you and your family require.
Asbestos Exposure Questions
When asbestos breaks down over time or with use, the fibers of the material can become airborne, presenting a risk of inhaling or ingesting the toxin. Asbestos is a cancer-causing agent, and those heavily exposed can develop scarring in the lungs and later develop lung cancer and mesothelioma.
Asbestos was widely used in piping, insulation, electrical components, machine parts, packaging, flooring, ceiling tiles, roofing, and in many building materials.
If you were exposed to asbestos at your workplace, and have developed cancer or a related illness, you are likely to qualify for compensation.
Asbestos was cheap, durable, fire-resistant and light, and was thought to be the perfect insulating material before research showed it was extremely hazardous to the health.
Occupational Asbestos Exposure
The following tasks are associated with possible high asbestos exposure:
- Installing framework in factory construction projects
- Inspecting factory equipment
- Masonry work
- Assembling and repairing boilers and plate work
- Operating plant machines and cranes
- Tending to stoves or furnaces
- Applying metal lath
- Laying heating and ventilating pipes
- Forging and heat-treating steel products and tools
- Insulating various types of pipe systems
- Installing acoustic tiles
- Smelting and pouring materials at high temperatures
- Plastering and sanding surface finishes
- Working in an enclosed space with asbestos products (shingles and tiles, etc.)
- In 2010, a painter in Texas who developed mesothelioma after spending much of his life working with texturized top coats and fillers sued a number of asbestos product manufacturers. A jury awarded him an $11 million verdict.
- In 2005, a San Francisco jury awarded a sheet metal worker nearly $2 million dollars after he developed mesothelioma from working with duct connectors and duct sealers, which contained asbestos.
- Owens Corning Fiberglass Corporation was found negligent and a jury awarded one victim of mesothelioma a verdict of nearly $3.5 million. His attorney said the man worked for Owens Corning in the 1960s and was exposed to their toxic insulation product.
- In the 1990s, two engineers filed lawsuits against North American Refractory Company (NARCO). According to their lawyers, the victims, who suffered from related lung diseases, were exposed to high levels of asbestos dust from a gunning mix. The jury found North American Refractory Company liable and awarded the men $7 million.
EPA Asbestos Approval
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will no longer evaluate asbestos in homes and businesses as a serious danger or health risk, as the EPA announced in recent reports.
The EPA asbestos decisions, under Scott Pruitt, decided it is unnecessary to evaluate the health risks of the toxic substance despite the continuing workplace and home hazards that still lead to mesothelioma deaths for up to 3,000 Americans each year.
The agency will still evaluate and require approval for any new use of asbestos, but let the already-present toxin remains in many public building, businesses, schools, houses and hospitals. Fifty-five countries have a total ban on the use of asbestos, including nations like the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Japan.
The new EPA asbestos stance has gone mostly undeterred because the current administration sees eye-to-eye on safety deregulation and pro-corporate interests. The health and safety of American workers and consumers, however, already in danger, could lose its footing as the EPA drifts toward toxic tolerance.
EPA Asbestos Standards
According to the EPA Website, exposure to asbestos increases the risk of developing lung diseases like mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis. That risk is made worse by certain factors, such as smoking and long-term exposure in workplaces known to be laden with the toxin.
There is no safe amount of asbestos exposure, and the greater the exposure to asbestos, the greater the chance of developing severe health problems. Lung disease symptoms may lay dormant after exposure, and can take years to develop.
Asbestos-related health conditions can be difficult to identify and confused with other respiratory health issues. Healthcare professionals help identify the possibility of asbestos exposure by looking at the person’s medical, work, and environmental history. Known major health effects have been linked to asbestos exposure including lung cancer, pulmonary fibrosis, adenocarcinoma and mesothelioma.
On one hand the EPA regards asbestos as a cancer-causing agent, which fills older buildings and presents health hazards to various Ohio workers and consumers, and yet the agency has not taken measures to eradicate the toxin as safety advocates say they could.
The EPA has not properly evaluated the dangerous legacy of existing and so levels of contamination are unknown in Ohio. We do know asbestos exists in many areas in homes, schools, hospitals, factories, auto products, and workplaces but there is little help in evaluating an individual’s Ohio asbestos exposure risks.
Despite a significant reduction in the use of asbestos in past decades, annual deaths continue because asbestos-related diseases lay dormant.