The Risks and Danger of Asbestos Exposure
March 2, 2017
Asbestos exposure can put a person’s health at serious risk and even prove fatal. Asbestos was used for quite some time in both industrial and commercial settings, mostly because it is highly durable, fire resistant and difficult to breakdown. However, information has proven that asbestos can be lethal and is therefore now highly regulated.
Until the 1970s, asbestos was often the material of choice for flooring, roofing shingles, ceiling materials, cement compounds, automotive parts and textile products, as well as others. This means that although it is not used nearly as much today and is classified as a human carcinogen, it is still present in industrial and commercial environments. A human carcinogen is any substance that is proven to cause cancer. Too often, a person is exposed to asbestos and does not even know it. For example, this can occur because of the failure of an employer to report work conditions to their workers. Asbestos has even been found in schools, allowing for children and teachers to face daily exposure and the potential, fatal health risks.
Asbestos is extremely easy to inhale and hard for the naked eye to see because its fibers are microscopic. Because it is fibrous, asbestos quite literally clings to the respiratory system, such as inside the lungs. Due to its durability, asbestos fibers are nearly impossible to break down, and remain in the body causing serious damage. Asbestos has been linked to lung cancer, Asbestosis and Mesothelioma.
Asbestosis is a chronic and progressive respiratory disease. It can lead to cardiac failure, and inflicts symptoms like shortness of breath, inflammation and the development of scar tissue in the lungs. It causes overall problems and discomfort while breathing. Mesothelioma is a kind of cancer that typically affects the lining of the chest wall along with the lungs, but can damage the layer of tissue that covers any or all of the internal organs. Mesothelioma is an extremely aggressive form of cancer, and typically has a very poor prognosis, meaning that survival is fairly uncommon because it has no known cure.
Unfortunately, certain people are at a higher risk for exposure to asbestos because of employment in particular industries. Shipbuilding, power plants, commercial product manufacturing as well as construction are known for historically using asbestos. For people who worked in any of these fields before the 1980s in particular, the risk is especially high. This goes for veterans as well, including those in service to each military branch.
In 1984, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) initiated an asbestos ban, citing the serious health hazard that asbestos posed in American schools. However, the survey conducted by the EPA that precipitated this ban is the only one that the government conducted in the last thirty years. The report showed that 2,600 public and private school districts, involving over 30,000 schools total, were at risk of asbestos exposure. This means that today students, teachers, employees and administrators in thousands of schools continue to face the danger of being exposed to asbestos daily.
In 2015, two state senators wrote a letter to every governor in the country, requesting information on asbestos in schools nationwide. In their letter it was noted that the amount of asbestos remains fairly unknown. What we do know, however, is that there have been too many instances of school closures because of asbestos exposure, such as when a California school closed because of finding asbestos in multiple classrooms in 2014. In 2015, a photo of a worker in protective asbestos gear in a classroom was circulated with parents reporting that the school district had failed to report any problems or concerns to them. Yet another example was in 2015, when a district employee was fired after she raised concerns of asbestos exposure in a school in Idaho.
With the risk of Asbestosis, lung cancer, Mesothelioma, as well as other respiratory problems, asbestos exposure is a major health concern. Asbestos is present in many different industries, and many workers still suffer exposure today.
Philadelphia Product Liability Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Represent Victims of Asbestos Exposure
If you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos, and you have questions about your legal rights, please call an experienced product liability lawyer at Galfand Berger at 1-800-222-8792 to schedule an appointment, or complete our contact form.