Blue-collar workers, military service members, and their families have the highest risk of asbestos exposure. People exposed to asbestos may later develop mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis, pleural plaques, or other illnesses. Asbestos-related diseases are primarily caused by occupational exposure.
Asbestos Exposure and Disease
The United States once produced millions of asbestos products. This mineral was virtually impervious to heat, fire, water, and sound, making it a powerful asset to thousands of industries.
Asbestos could be found in:
- Car parts
- Construction materials
- Military bases, ships, & vehicles
- Schools and offices
While asbestos was once thought of as a miracle due to its durability and other positive properties, it had an alarming drawback: it could cause people to develop serious health problems.
The health effects of asbestos were not well-known until millions had already been exposed. This is because the manufacturers of asbestos-containing products knew the health risks but hid the facts to keep making money.
Anyone exposed to asbestos decades ago is now at risk of health problems since it takes 20-50 years for these diseases to develop and cause noticeable symptoms. Those constantly exposed to asbestos materials over long periods of time are more likely to develop asbestos-related diseases.
Victims of asbestos-related diseases may be eligible to receive financial compensation to help them hold accountable the negligent companies that led to their illness.
Types of Asbestos Exposure
There are many different ways that individuals can become exposed to asbestos whether at work, out in nature, or in their homes.
Did You Know?
The main way that you may come into contact with asbestos is through inhalation or ingestion.
When asbestos-containing rocks, soil, or manufactured products become disturbed or break apart, it releases fibers into the air.
People can then breathe in or swallow these asbestos fibers. The fibers never leave once inside the body.
Military Asbestos Exposure
Military personnel had one of the highest probabilities of asbestos exposure.
Almost every branch of the U.S. military relied on asbestos for constructing ships, aircraft, and buildings from the 1930s to the late 1970s.
U.S. Military roles with a high risk of exposure include:
- Aircraft mechanics
- Construction workers
- Demolition specialists
- Flooring installers
- Heating system workers
- Hull technicians
- Insulation workers
- Machinist mates
- Shipyard workers
- Vehicle mechanics
The U.S. Navy had some of the highest rates of asbestos use out of all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Shipbuilding was the most prominent example of asbestos use in the U.S. Navy. The mineral was used to coat ships’ hulls and pipes.
U.S. Navy veterans exposed to asbestos during their time of service can seek financial and health care benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Our team is available to help veterans build strong VA claims.
Occupational Exposure to Asbestos
Some industries and occupations were notoriously risky for exposing workers to asbestos dust.
Historically, these jobs had the highest exposure risk:
- Automotive mechanics since most cars, trucks, and buses were assembled with asbestos-containing products
- Construction workers as hundreds of products relied on asbestos to make them stronger, lighter, and cheaper
- Installers who cut, drilled, sanded and shaped asbestos-containing products on construction sites
- Maintenance personnel who disturbed asbestos-containing products during repairs and modification
- Manufacturing workers who handled raw asbestos and produced products
- Miners who extracted raw asbestos
- Renovators and demolition specialists who destroyed asbestos-containing materials
Anyone who worked directly with asbestos or asbestos-containing products at these jobs is at an increased risk of dangerous health problems.
Thousands of asbestos products were made in part because the mineral was so versatile.
These products included:
- Brake pads and shoes
- Cabinet linings
- Cement and cement mixes
- Clutch discs and plates
- Drywall or sheetrock
- Fireplace bricks
- Floor tiles
- Roofing materials
- Talcum powder
Some of these products may still contain asbestos today.
For example, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found traces of asbestos in Johnson & Johnson® baby powder in 2019.
Secondary Asbestos Exposure
Secondary asbestos exposure occurs when individuals who do not directly use or work near asbestos-containing products are exposed — similar to secondhand smoke.
Workers and military personnel often came home with asbestos on their clothing, skin, or hair.
When the asbestos was disturbed and released into the air, it created a risk of exposure for those around them at the time.
Did You Know?
Those who had the greatest risk of secondary exposure were the families of workers who handled asbestos firsthand.
Asbestos fibers often were dispersed from a worker’s clothing while their wife did the laundry.
Asbestos fibers are almost always undetectable since they are virtually invisible and odorless.
This is what causes the greatest risk of secondary exposure to those who do not work directly with the mineral.
Health Risks of Asbestos Exposure
Researchers have identified several diseases caused by asbestos exposure.
Asbestos is a recognized carcinogen (cancer-causing substance) in humans. Malignant (cancerous) asbestos-related diseases develop when mutated cells grow and divide out of control.
Some asbestos-caused cancers are treatable in the early stages while others are potentially fatal.
In addition to mesothelioma and other cancers, exposure can also lead to non-cancerous asbestos diseases.
Lung cancer is a common and deadly disease. Asbestos exposure only generates about 20% of lung cancer cases.
Most are related to smoking but worsen when asbestos fibers irritate otherwise healthy lung tissue.
Surgery can sometimes remove lung cancer tumors before they spread into the rest of the body. Radiation and chemotherapy also work.
This is arguably the worst disease caused by asbestos exposure.
Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer.
It occurs when cancerous tumors form in the:
- Abdominal lining (peritoneum)
- Heart lining (pericardium)
- Lung lining (pleura)
- Testicle lining (tunica vaginalis)
Symptoms can vary depending on the type, but common ones include shortness of breath, chest pain, persistent cough, and weight loss.
Malignant mesothelioma survival rates range from 1 to 5 years after diagnosis.
Anyone who develops mesothelioma should explore key treatments immediately and learn how to pay for medical expenses.
Ovarian, Laryngeal, and Kidney Cancers
Asbestos exposure has also been linked to cancer of the ovaries, kidneys, and larynx (voice box).
Ovarian cancer is the most deadly form of cancer among women, while larynx and kidney cancers affect both men and women.
This is the most common asbestos disease. This lung disease involves scar tissue forming inside of the lungs, making it harder for victims to breathe over time.
Asbestosis is not always fatal but does have a high mortality rate if not treated.
Plaque formation on lung or pleural tissue is also common.
Pleural plaque develops after collagen — a protein produced by the body — responds to immune system signals when asbestos fibers attach to pleural tissue.
Collagen calcifies or hardens and forms pleural plaque deposits.
When the lining of the lungs become irritated by asbestos fibers, fluid can build up called a pleural effusion.
Pleural effusions are not particularly dangerous, but they can cause shortness of breath, a dry cough, and pain.
Pleural effusions can be drained through minimally-invasive surgery.
Who Develops Asbestos-Related Diseases?
Medical experts cannot conclusively predict who is more likely to get sick from asbestos exposure.
Whether someone will develop an asbestos-related disease after exposure depends on a combination of factors.
These factors may include:
- Dosage: The amount or quantity of asbestos fibers to which someone was exposed
- Duration: The length of time a worker was exposed
- Location: The amount of ventilation in a work area can greatly affect how much asbestos exposure occurs
- Personal habits: Issues like smoking, when combined with asbestos exposure, may increase the risk of illnesses
- Genetics: Some people are genetically predisposed to develop cancer or other diseases
Pre-existing conditions: Workers with pre-existing medical issues had a higher risk of asbestos-related illnesses
Those who are concerned that their asbestos exposure could lead to health issues should speak with their doctor.
Treatments are often available no matter what type of asbestos-related disease someone may have. Victims of asbestos exposure may also qualify to receive financial compensation to help pay for their treatment.
Compensation for Asbestos-Related Diseases
Many people who developed a life-threatening disease after workplace asbestos exposure received compensation from negligent asbestos manufacturers and suppliers.
With help from a mesothelioma lawyer, you may be able to receive court-ordered financial compensation if you or a family member got sick from asbestos exposure.
For more information on seeking justice for asbestos exposure and illness, get a free case review today.
- American Society of Clinical Oncology. (2019, November 1). Fluid Around the Lungs or Malignant Pleural Effusion. Retrieved March 31, 2020, from https://www.cancer.net/coping-with-cancer/physical-emotional-and-social-effects-cancer/managing-physical-side-effects/fluid-around-lungs-or-malignant-pleural-effusion
- ATDSR: Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, “Asbestos and Health: Frequently Asked Questions” https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/asbestos/docs/Asbestos_Factsheet_508.pdf Accessed April 17, 2020
- ATDSR: Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, “Asbestos Toxicity: Who is at Risk for Asbestos Exposure?” (2016, January 29) https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/csem/csem.asp?csem=29&po;=7 Accessed on April 17, 2020
- Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety “Asbestos Exposure Fact Sheet” Retrieved from http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/chemicals/asbestos/whatis.html Accessed on 16 December, 2017
- United States Department of Labor Occupational Safety & Health Administration, “Asbestos” Retrieved from https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/asbestos/index.html Accessed on 16 December, 2017
- United States Department of Veteran Affairs, “Veterans Asbestos Exposure” (2019, September 27) https://www.va.gov/disability/eligibility/hazardous-materials-exposure/asbestos/ Accessed on April 17, 2020
- United States Environmental Protection Agency, “Asbestos Exposure” Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/asbestos Accessed on 16 December, 2017
- National Cancer Institute, “Asbestos Exposure and Cancer Risk” Retrieved from https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/substances/asbestos/asbestos-fact-sheet Accessed on 16 December, 2017
Easier Than It May Seem
Your individual situation may merit an actual lawsuit. However, it doesn’t have to be that complicated. Trusts have been set up to benefit victims of mesothelioma in such a way that lawsuits and court appearances aren’t needed. Contact us today and you’ll see how easy it can be to get the compensation you deserve.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who can file a mesothelioma claim?
A person who has been diagnosed with mesothelioma – as well as their spouse, child, or family member – may be able to file a claim to recover compensation from manufacturers of asbestos products. If the mesothelioma patient passes away, a family member or estate representative may also be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
How much money is in the asbestos trust fund?
An estimated $30 billion has been set aside in asbestos trust funds to compensate mesothelioma patients. Many companies that made asbestos products later filed for bankruptcy, so they created these trust funds to pay out future mesothelioma claims. If the company responsible for your asbestos exposure no longer exists, you may be entitled to money from their trust fund.
How do I file a mesothelioma claim?
To file a mesothelioma claim, contact an attorney who is experienced with these types of lawsuits. They will know where and when to file your claim, how to build the strongest case possible, and the best way to maximize compensation on your behalf.
What is the statute of limitations on mesothelioma claims?
The statute of limitations (deadline to file) for mesothelioma claims will vary depending on the state in which you file. In many states, it’s 2-3 years from the date of the mesothelioma diagnosis – though it may be longer if the mesothelioma patient has passed away. A mesothelioma lawyer can make sure your claim is filed within the required time frame.
How long do mesothelioma claims take?
Every mesothelioma claim is different, with circumstances and factors that are unique to that mesothelioma patient’s story. Though there’s no way to predict exactly how long a claim will take, an experienced mesothelioma attorney will ensure the process is handled as efficiently as possible.
Many claimants start to receive compensation in as few as 90 days after settling their mesothelioma claims.
What is the average payout for mesothelioma?
There is no guarantee of compensation when you file a mesothelioma claim, and countless factors affect how much money you might be able to recover (assuming your case settles). That said, 95% of these lawsuits are settled out of court, and the average settlement amount is $1-1.4 million.
How much is my mesothelioma claim worth?
Your mesothelioma case value depends on the specifics of your situation, such as the duration of your asbestos exposure, and the total cost of your mesothelioma treatment (as well as travel expenses and other related losses). The best way to figure out how much your claim is worth is to speak with a mesothelioma lawyer.
What type of mesothelioma claim do I have?
Most mesothelioma claims fall under one of four categories:
- Personal injury: You were exposed to asbestos (often through your job, or your loved one’s), so you file a lawsuit against the company that made the asbestos products.
- Asbestos trust fund: Similar to a personal injury claim, only the company in question went bankrupt, so you can’t sue them – but you may be able to access a trust fund they set aside for mesothelioma victims.
- Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits: U.S. military veterans who were exposed to asbestos during their service may qualify for related health care benefits through the VA.
- Wrongful death: When a mesothelioma patient passes away, their family member or estate representative may be able to file a lawsuit on their behalf, seeking money to pay for past medical expenses, pain and suffering, funeral expenses, etc.
A mesothelioma attorney can determine which type of claim makes the most sense for you and your family. (Some clients qualify for more than one.)