According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 125 million people are occupationally exposed to asbestos worldwide. In addition, over 107,000 people die from asbestos-related mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis every year as the result of workplace exposure.
Asbestos refers to a group of naturally occurring minerals that, once discovered, were widely used in a variety of products due to its natural resistance to heat, fire, and corrosion. In the 19th and most of the 20th century, commercial and industrial use of asbestos boomed in the United States. It has been used in building materials, insulation for pipes, roofing, vehicle brakes, floor tiles, and a variety of other products. Asbestos was also used in factories, ships, oil refineries, chemical plants, and even railroad cars.
The asbestos industry was highly profitable, so when asbestos was identified as a carcinogen, the asbestos industry hid the truth from the public in order to continue capitalizing on use of the product. As a result, hundreds of thousands of people were exposed to the dangerous asbestos fibers, which, when inhaled or even ingested, would become trapped in the body. Unfortunately, it may be 20 to 50 years before a person exhibits symptoms of an asbestos-related disease, which significantly worsens their prognosis.
There are various conditions that may develop as the result of asbestos exposure, the most common of which affect the lungs. Mesothelioma and asbestosis are the most common; however, other lung cancers may also result.
Mesothelioma, though still considered a rare cancer, is the most common type of cancer associated with asbestos exposure. It develops in the mesothelium, or the thin tissue layer that covers most of the body's internal organs. There are three main types of mesothelioma:
The most common type is pleural mesothelioma; however, all types are fatal. Because the latency period of mesothelioma is so long, the cancer is not detected until it is too late for any curative treatment.
Asbestosis is an inflammatory condition of the lungs and may be a precursor to mesothelioma. Asbestosis causes scar tissue (fibrosis) build-up inside the lung, which does not expand and contract normally as a result. People suffering from asbestosis experience persistent coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, and sustain permanent lung damage. As with mesothelioma, there is no cure for asbestosis and the condition only gets worse over time.
The asbestos industry not only continued mining, processing, and using asbestos despite the dangers it posed, but hid those dangers from the public and innocent workers. As a result, asbestos companies sentenced its hard workers to death. If you or a loved one suffers from an asbestos-related disease as the result of the negligence and/or wrongdoing of an asbestos company, the experienced New Jersey product liability attorneys at Blume Forte can investigate the circumstances of your asbestos exposure and determine whether your potential claim may have merit. To learn more about your legal rights and potential options, contact us for a no-cost consultation at (973) 635-5400.
If you need to consult a New Jersey personal injury attorney, you need to contact Blume Forte Fried Zerres & Molinari. The initial consultation is always free.