Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos was once called a "miracle mineral" and was used extensively in commercial applications. The effects of asbestos exposure can take decades to manifest, and past asbestos exposure continues to kill 12,000-15,000 Americans each year. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, contact the mesothelioma lawyers at Braver Law to file a claim.

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Our VA-accredited lawyers have recovered $100+ million in compensation for clients nationwide. We help veterans file claims, with first payment in as little as 90 days.

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"If you have lung cancer or mesothelioma, don’t assume that you do not have a case. Go ahead and contact Braver Law. They know exactly what needs to be done to win your case."

- Osvaldo P , Miami, FL

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral once used widely in construction and manufacturing. However, we now know that asbestos exposure causes serious health issues including mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis. Asbestos exposure has led to hundreds of thousands of deaths in the United States alone. Understanding the risks is the first step in protecting yourself and your loved ones.

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos refers to six naturally occurring silicate minerals. Asbestos fibers are strong and resistant to heat, electricity and chemical damage. These qualities once made asbestos very useful for industrial applications such as insulation, roofing, and fireproofing. However, asbestos is also a known carcinogen and its use is now highly restricted in the United States.

Quick Facts about Asbestos

  • Asbestos fibers are so small they can only be identified under a microscope
  • Inhaled or swallowed asbestos fibers can cause health issues
  • Asbestos exposure is responsible for 12,000-15,000 deaths per year in the U.S.
  • Mesothelioma is a rare cancer caused almost exclusively by asbestos
  • There is no safe level of asbestos exposure

Asbestos-Related Deaths in the United States

According to the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH), exposure to asbestos kills approximately 12,000 to 15,000 people per year in the United States alone. This shocking statistic makes asbestos one of the leading causes of occupational cancer. In fact, asbestos exposure accounts for 3,000 deaths from mesothelioma per year. Hundreds of thousands of deaths have resulted from asbestos since the late 1800s.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a health issue due to asbestos exposure or suspect you may have been exposed to asbestos, contact our lawyers today.

Occupations with a High Risk of Asbestos Exposure

Although asbestos use is now highly regulated, many workers were exposed on the job before regulations were put in place. Occupations with high rates of asbestos exposure include:

  • Construction and demolition workers
  • Shipbuilders and maritime workers
  • Auto mechanics
  • Power plant and refinery workers
  • Iron and steel workers
  • Insulators
  • Railroad workers
  • Industrial site workers
  • Manufacturing and factory workers
  • Miners
  • Military veterans
  • Firefighters

If you worked in any of these fields, especially prior to 1983, you may have had significant asbestos exposure without even realizing it.

Asbestos Exposure Sites and Common Locations

In addition to occupational exposure, many people encounter asbestos in common products and locations. Before safety regulations were enacted, asbestos was used in thousands of products including:

  • Insulation
  • Ceiling and floor tiles
  • Roofing shingles
  • Siding
  • Clutches and brakes in automobiles
  • Hot water pipes
  • Old stoves and furnaces

Asbestos fibers can be released into the air anytime these materials are disturbed during renovations, repairs or demolition. If you live in an older home, have done renovations or repairs, or worked in an industrial setting, you may have been exposed to this toxic material.

Diseases Caused by Exposure to Asbestos

Inhalation or ingestion of asbestos fibers can lead to life-threatening illnesses with long latency periods. Diseases caused by asbestos include:

Mesothelioma - This rare and aggressive cancer affects the lining of the lungs, abdomen, heart or testicles. The only known cause of mesothelioma is asbestos.

Lung Cancer -  Lung cancer is the leading type of cancer linked to asbestos in the United States. The combination of asbestos and smoking greatly increases lung cancer risk.

Asbestosis - Asbestos fibers become lodged in lung tissue and cause heavy scarring that restricts breathing and can be fatal.

Pleural Plaques - Calcified lesions on the pleura, which is the membrane around the lungs. This condition can cause pain and restrict breathing.

Pleural Effusions - Buildup of fluid between the pleura and the lungs, leading to pain, fever and shortness of breath.

Other Asbestos-Related Cancers - Could include colon cancer, prostate cancer, stomach cancer, laryngeal cancer, esophageal cancer, throat cancer, and pharyngeal cancer.

Anyone who has been exposed to asbestos is at risk of developing these diseases. The time between first exposure and diagnosis is typically 20-50 years. If you notice any concerning symptoms, contact your doctor immediately. Early detection is key for effective treatment.

The 6 Types of Asbestos

While asbestos refers to a group of 6 naturally occurring minerals, the fibers have different properties and levels of toxicity. The most common types of asbestos are:

  1. Chrysotile - Also known as white asbestos, this is the most widely used form. Chrysotile fibers are curly and pliable, making them useful for fabrics, yarns, papers, and cement products.
  2. Amosite - Known as brown asbestos, amosite features needle-like fibers and was often used for cement sheets, pipes, tiles, and roofing materials. It is considered one of the most dangerous forms.
  3. Crocidolite - Referred to as blue asbestos, crocidolite has straight, stiff fibers. It was commonly used for insulation, plastics, and friction products. Crocidolite is the most hazardous type of asbestos.
  4. Tremolite - A contaminant of chrysotile deposits, tremolite asbestos is needle-like. This toxic mineral is found in talc, vermiculite, and other industrial materials.
  5. Anthophyllite - This gray-brown amphibole mineral has long, brittle fibers. Although not as commercially popular as other types, it was used in some cement and insulation products.
  6. Actinolite - Needle-shaped fibers make this colorless to greenish mineral useful for fillers and insulation. It occurs as a contaminant in some talc deposits.

While all types of asbestos are dangerous, amosite, crocidolite, and tremolite are considered the most toxic. Knowing the different types of fibers can help identify materials that could pose a health risk.

Key Asbestos Properties

The unique properties of asbestos once made it invaluable for many commercial uses. However, we now know that these same attributes also make asbestos highly toxic. Asbestos possesses:

  1. Heat resistance - Asbestos has excellent thermal insulation properties and can be used in high-temperature applications. However, heat and flames can also release asbestos fibers into the air.
  2. Chemical resistance - Asbestos fibers do not react to most chemical compounds or degrade over time. This allowed widespread use but it also means fibers remain in the environment.
  3. Strength - Asbestos fibers have extremely high tensile strength compared to their weight. This made asbestos useful for cement, fabrics, and other materials.
  4. Non-conductivity - Asbestos does not conduct heat or electricity, making it useful for insulation around hot pipes, boilers, and electrical wiring.
  5. Flexibility - Chrysotile asbestos fibers can be spun into fabrics and yarns. Amosite and crocidolite fibers are also flexible.
  6. Low cost - Abundant mineral deposits and easy mining of asbestos made it inexpensive for manufacturers.

These properties led to asbestos being used in thousands of products. However, robust asbestos fibers also break easily into microscopic pieces that embed in body tissues when inhaled or ingested.

VA Benefits for Military Asbestos Exposure

Veterans account for approximately 30% of annual mesothelioma deaths in the U.S. All branches of the military used asbestos extensively between the 1930s through the 1970s in everything from insulation to shipbuilding. As a result, veterans are at very high risk of asbestos exposure. Resources are available for veterans including:

  • Disability Compensation - Veterans diagnosed with an asbestos disease can receive monthly compensation. Survivor benefits assist families who lost a loved one.
  • Treatment at VA Hospitals - The VA covers diagnostic testing, cancer treatments, and medications for conditions caused by asbestos.
  • Travel Assistance - Veterans may qualify for reimbursement for travel to VA treatment centers.
  • Free Health Exams - The VA offers priority medical exams to determine if lung conditions may be related to asbestos.
  • VA Claims Assistance - Veterans advocates assist with filing claims and appeals to secure benefits for asbestos exposure.

Veterans concerned about asbestos exposure should speak to their VA doctor or contact a service representative. You have earned benefits to offset the health and financial burdens of asbestos-related illnesses.

Asbestos and Mesothelioma Lawsuits

People suffering from mesothelioma were almost always exposed to asbestos due to manufacturer negligence or exposure at work. While no amount of money can make up for the devastating effects of this cancer, holding corporations accountable can provide resources for:

  • Medical bills not covered by health insurance
  • Lost income from being unable to work
  • Costs of traveling to cancer centers for treatment
  • Necessary modifications to accommodate disabilities
  • Funeral and burial expenses for loved ones
  • Future security for spouses and dependent children

Successful legal action also pressures companies to take responsibility for wrongful asbestos use that endangered workers and the public. An experienced mesothelioma lawyer at Braver Law understands the complex legal process and can maximize compensation for victims and their families.

Asbestos Trust Funds

Many companies that commonly used asbestos in their products have established special trust funds to provide financial compensation to victims without going through litigation. Asbestos trusts have over $30 billion remaining collectively for claimants who meet exposure criteria. Companies with trusts include:

  • Johns-Manville
  • Owens Corning
  • W.R. Grace
  • CertainTeed
  • Fibreboard Corporation
  • United States Gypsum
  • Pittsburgh Corning
  • Babcock & Wilcox, Inc.

Filing a claim with an asbestos trust with the help of a mesothelioma lawyer can provide compensation without lengthy trials. Your eligibility depends on detailed employment history, supporting medical documentation of an asbestos-related disease, and necessary work records. Our mesothelioma lawyers will help you navigate the trusts and help you file your claim.

Braver Law: Helping Those with Asbestos Exposure

If you or a loved one suffered harm from asbestos, the compassionate mesothelioma lawyers at Braver Law are here to help. We are dedicated advocates for victims of asbestos exposure and their families. Our firm assists with:

  • Compiling occupational and environmental exposure histories
  • Gathering crucial medical and work documentation
  • Filing claims with asbestos trust funds
  • Determining eligibility for VA benefits
  • Representing clients in personal injury lawsuits
  • Connecting clients to top cancer doctors and treatment centers
  • Maximizing compensation through settlements or verdicts

Our ultimate goal is to get clients and families the maximum financial recovery available in their situation. We also strive to hold negligent corporations fully accountable for the lives endangered by reckless asbestos use. Don't wait to protect your rights to compensation for an asbestos-related condition. Contact our law offices today for a free consultation with a mesothelioma lawyer.

Financial Compensation for Asbestos Exposure

The emotional toll of an asbestos disease is immense, and the costs can also become overwhelming. Expenses for medical treatments, travel to specialty hospitals, home modifications, lost wages, and more add up quickly. If negligence by asbestos manufacturers or property owners caused or contributed to your illness, you have legal options to obtain financial compensation. With a mesothelioma lawyer assisting you, compensation can come from any combination of:

  • Personal injury lawsuits
  • Out-of-court settlements with defendants
  • Claims filed with asbestos bankruptcy trust funds
  • VA benefits for veterans
  • Victims' funds in some states

Money alone cannot erase the suffering caused by preventable asbestos exposure. However, compensation can ease financial stressors so you and your family can focus on the most important thing - your health and quality of life.

Frequently Asked Questions about Asbestos Risks

What are some asbestos-related diseases?

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Several fatal illnesses are caused by asbestos exposure including mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis, pleural plaques, pleural effusions, other asbestos-related cancers, and more. These diseases can take 10 to 50 years to develop after initial asbestos exposure. This long latency period is why asbestos-related diagnoses are still common today.

How does asbestos cause cancer?

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Asbestos fibers become lodged in the lining of the lungs, abdomen or heart. Over time, the sharp edges of the fibers irritate and inflame tissue, causing genetic cell mutations and tumor growth. Asbestos is classified as a human carcinogen by the EPA, WHO, and OSHA.

Where was asbestos banned first?

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Iceland was the first country to ban all imports and uses of asbestos in 1983. Since then over 60 nations worldwide have enacted bans, including all European Union members. The U.S. has only banned certain asbestos-containing products but still allows some uses.

Can asbestos be removed from the lungs?

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Unfortunately no. Once asbestos fibers become embedded in lung or abdominal tissue, they cannot be removed. The fibers cause chronic inflammation and scarring of organs that leads to diseases like mesothelioma. Quitting smoking and a healthy lifestyle may limit further damage.

Is asbestos abatement required before renovations?

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Before doing any demolition, remodeling or repair work in older buildings, asbestos abatement is highly recommended. Licensed professionals should inspect, and safely remove if needed, any asbestos materials that could be disturbed in the course of construction. This prevents hazardous exposures.

How dangerous is asbestos in homes?

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Many homes built before 1983 contain asbestos products that are undisturbed and pose minimal risks. However, asbestos fibers can be released during DIY repairs, renovations or weather-related damage. It's best to have older homes inspected so any risks can be identified and mitigated.

What are early symptoms of asbestos exposure?

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In the first decade after asbestos exposure, patients are often asymptomatic. Early symptoms like shortness of breath, dry cough, chest tightness or unexplained weight loss tend to be vague. Anyone with a possible asbestos exposure history should mention it to their doctor for evaluation.

How much does asbestos removal cost?

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The cost for asbestos abatement depends on factors like the type of material, the quantity being removed, and the complexity of the project. As a rough estimate, removing asbestos siding costs $6-10 per square foot. For asbestos insulation removal, costs range from $1-5 per square foot.

What safety gear is required during asbestos removal?

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Workers removing asbestos must wear protective equipment like disposable coveralls, gloves, goggles, hard hats and respirators with HEPA filters. The work area has to be sealed off with plastic sheeting to prevent contamination. Proper gear and containment procedures are mandated by OSHA.

Can asbestos be safely encapsulated?

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Encapsulation seals asbestos materials within a protective coating so that fibers cannot escape. This is considered an acceptable abatement method for materials like pipes or boilers when removal may be too difficult or hazardous. The coating must be monitored over time for any deterioration or damage.

What products contained asbestos?

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Thousands of materials contained asbestos before safety regulations were implemented, including insulation, floor tiles, roof shingles, plastics, paper products, paints, cement pipes, automotive brakes, and more. Asbestos was valued for being affordable, durable and fire-resistant.

Why is asbestos insulation dangerous?

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Asbestos insulation can release toxic fibers into the air when damaged, disturbed or deteriorating. When inhaled, these microscopic fibers become lodged in the lungs and cause inflammation and scarring that leads to asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma or lung cancer. Proper abatement is crucial.

How can you tell if something has asbestos?

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It's very difficult to identify asbestos just by looking. The microscopic fibers are often invisible. Asbestos may appear soft and fibrous or be hidden within materials. To confirm its presence, a sample must be analyzed by a lab. Assuming materials contain asbestos until tested is the safest approach.

Can asbestos be removed from the body?

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Unfortunately no. Once asbestos fibers are inhaled and become trapped in the lungs or other organs, they cannot be removed. The fibers cause chronic inflammation and damage that eventually leads to diseases like mesothelioma. There are no cures at this time, only treatments to slow progression.

Is it safe to remove asbestos yourself?

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Absolutely not. DIY asbestos removal is extremely hazardous. Disturbing asbestos materials unsafely can release high levels of toxic fibers into your home. Always hire a licensed professional asbestos abatement company to contain, properly remove, and dispose of asbestos following EPA regulations.

What are the symptoms of asbestos exposure?

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Symptoms of asbestos exposure don't appear until decades later, which makes it so dangerous. Early signs like shortness of breath, dry cough, or chest tightness are also common in other illnesses, making asbestos hard to diagnose. Anyone with possible exposure history should see their doctor for regular screenings.

How long can asbestos exposure symptoms take to appear?

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The latency period between asbestos exposure and the onset of related diseases is typically 15 to 50 years. This long gap means people often don't connect their illness to asbestos exposure decades earlier. This extended timeframe is unique to asbestos and makes it very hard to diagnose. Regular checkups are vital for those at risk.

Is asbestos poisoning contagious?

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No, asbestos exposure is not contagious and cannot be spread between people or animals. The only way to be poisoned is to inhale or ingest airborne asbestos fibers directly from the environment. If protective gear is worn around asbestos, the risk of exposure can be eliminated.

What does asbestos exposure do to the lungs?

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Inhaled asbestos fibers become lodged in the delicate lung tissue and cannot be broken down or removed by the body. The jagged fibers irritate the tissue, causing sustained inflammation, scarring, and cell mutation. This leads to asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma and other diseases. The damage worsens over decades.

Where can I get tested for asbestos exposure?

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Your primary care physician can order imaging tests like CT scans or MRIs to check for lung abnormalities indicating asbestos exposure. They may refer you to a pulmonologist, oncologist or specialist at a cancer center for additional testing. Checking for early signs is critical even without symptoms.