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Asbestos Exposure & Cancer

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What is Asbestos?

Asbestos, which has been used for, literally, many thousands of years as a fire-retardant and insulation material has actually long been linked to sickness and death. Unfortunately, evidence has revealed many of the companies producing asbestos products were well aware of the dangers that asbestos posed but continued to expose workers and laborers to the hazardous asbestos fibers due to greed.

The Federal Government finally stepped in in 1972 through OSHA to begin to regulate the manufacture and sale of asbestos containing products. As more information on asbestos disease which had been hidden by the asbestos industry was uncovered the Environmental Protection Agency and Consumer Product Safety Commission enforced strict regulations on its use in commercial and industrial products. Asbestos cancer diagnosis, including diagnosis of mesothelioma and lung carcinoma, can be difficult due to the fact that symptoms of the illness can in early stages mimic those of various other, more minor, respiratory complications. Signs and symptoms, such as shortness of breath, chest pain, or chronic dry cough may lead medical professionals to suspect mesothelioma, particularly if the patient has a known asbestos exposure history. A West Virginia asbestos attorney can help you file a claim.

Analysis tools include CT scans and MRIs for patients where asbestos cancer is suspected. In most cases, these imaging scans will be able to provide a picture of the tumor, but a biopsy will likely be needed to determine a conclusive diagnosis of mesothelioma rather than other lung carcinomas. In cases where pleural or peritoneal effusions, liquid build-up have manifested in the patient, draining these and extracting the fluid through pleurocentesis can allow oncologists to test the fluid for the presence of malignant cells or Epithelioid mesothelioma.

What is Mesothelioma?

The Asbestos Cancer Organization

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How Mesothelioma Affects West Virginia Residents

Mesothelioma affects West Virginia residents in a variety of ways. Mesothelioma is a deadly cancer with only one known cause: asbestos. West Virginia ranks 9th in the nation for mesothelioma deaths. One thousand one hundred and thirty-two of the 29,804 people who died from mesothelioma between 1999 and 2010 were West Virginia residents. Workers inhaling or ingesting asbestos dust was the first step the fibers took in the development of mesothelioma. Arriving in the lungs or abdomen, the fine, needle-like fibers work their way to the thin membrane that lines these organs, the mesothelium. For many West Virginia workers the simple act of eating lunch surrounded by the asbestos products they were cutting and sanding was an every day occurance.

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Asbestos Exposure & Cancer

The only known cause of Mesothelioma is Asbestos Exposure. Asbestos dust and particles that have been inhaled or ingested cause inflammation and disruption of normal cell growth on a microscopic level. This can lead to the development of mesothelioma cancer. Thousands of industrial, commercial and consumer products were manufactured with asbestos from the 1940’s through as late as the 1990’s in some cases.  Most of these companies knew the deadly effects that exposing their employees and customers would cause and yet still continued to use the deadly substance due to corporate greed. For this reason many lawsuits have been brought against these companies on behalf of Mesothelioma Victims. Understanding that Mesothelioma is a lethal cancer, this directly means that whoever exposed you or your loved one to Asbestos dust is responsible for their death.

 

Most asbestos exposure originates from the thousands of products that contained asbestos.  People who worked in industries like steel mills, foundries, power plants, chemical plants, refineries, paper mills, glass manufacturing, iron smelting and aluminum manufacturing from the 1940s through the 1990’s were most likely exposed to asbestos dust.  A lot of the insulation, refractories and friction products used by these industries during this time period contained asbestos. Construction workers including laborers, insulators, brick layers, electricians, machinists, millwrights, plumbers, pipefitters, steamfitters, iron workers, boilermakers, carpenters, plasterers, drywall workers and even superintendents, engineers and architects who worked in any form of construction from the 1940’s through the 1990’s could have been exposed to Asbestos dust. There were numerous asbestos containing construction materials sold by the asbestos companies.

 

The chances of being exposed to asbestos particles in these settings does not decrease even if a worker was never personally handling asbestos containing products. If someone worked in the same area where work with asbestos products was conducted they also inhaled the deadly toxins.  Most companies that manufactured or sold asbestos products did not provide warnings to their customers, many workers unwittingly introduced asbestos dust into their homes on their contaminated work clothing, subjecting their wives and even their children to enough asbestos exposure to cause mesothelioma. It has recently been found that some common talcum powders, including baby powder, shaving powders, cosmetic and hygiene talcum powders, contained dangerous levels of asbestos sufficient to cause mesothelioma.