Raleigh Asbestos Attorney
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is the general term applied to a family of naturally occurring silicate minerals in fiber form. These fibers are durable, strong, resistant to heat and fire and because of their fibrous nature, they can be woven and fabricated into many different types of materials.
Types of Asbestos
Of the different many forms of asbestos fibers, three were most often used for commercial purposes:
- Chrysotile, or white asbestos, has been very widely used in the US. It is white-gray in color and found in serpentine rock.
- Amosite or brown asbestos.
- Crocidolite or blue asbestos.
Amphibole asbestos (e.g. amosite and crocidolite) is very dangerous because of the shape of its fibers: microscopically small needles. Workers or persons exposed to this type of asbestos inhale the dust, which then becomes trapped in the lungs. Over time, this can lead to asbestosis, lung cancer or malignant mesothelioma.
Which Products Contain or Contained Asbestos?
Asbestos-containing products are used to prevent the transfer of heat from one place to another, or to keep heat out otherwise known as thermal insulation. Nearly all insulation materials manufactured before 1975 or so did contain some asbestos. Many products have, at one time or another, contained asbestos, including:
Adhesives, asbestos cloth, asbestos cement pipe, brake and clutch assemblies, ceiling tile, duct insulation, fireproofing spray, insulating cement, pipe-covering, refractory and boiler insulation materials, packing materials and insulating block materials. As it was fireproof, asbestos containing materials were also used in the construction trades: acoustical tiles, transite board, gaskets, joint compound, vinyl floor tile, mastics, coatings, roofing products, insulated electrical wire and panels, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.
Mesothelioma & Asbestos Health Risks
Is Asbestos exposure still a health risk? Yes! Asbestos is still a health risk as it may still be part of buildings that were built decades ago and that utilized asbestos containing materials in the construction or renovation of those structures. Asbestos-containing materials may be in factories, office buildings, ships, and other structures and products. Significantly, medical science believes that the latency period for malignant mesothelioma (the time it takes for a disease to develop and for the patient to notice or feel symptoms) may be up to 40 years after the initial exposure. The incidence of all asbestos related diseases increases with the intensity and duration of a person’s exposure to asbestos. If you have lost a loved one due to death from asbestos exposure, our attorneys can help.
Asbestos is the generic name given to a group of minerals that tend to break down into a dust of microscopic fibers. Its superior durability and resistance to heat have made it a staple in literally thousands of building components. Manufacturers have voluntarily limited the use of asbestos, but it is still common in older buildings.
It can be found in just about any building constructed before 1980. Some items containing asbestos in your home include older duct tape, floor tiles, acoustic ceiling tiles or covering, roofing materials, exterior siding, insulation, fireproof boards and flues around wood burning stoves, and some appliances including toasters, broilers, slow cookers, waffle irons, dishwashers, and refrigerators.
Asbestos is generally not harmful in its natural state. In production, asbestos was typically reduced to a “friable” state – small, brittle fibers. Fine asbestos dust is a by-product of friable asbestos. Inhaled microscopic fibers remain in the body forever and are impossible to remove. It damages lung tissue when inhaled during consistent, long-term exposure, causing “asbestosis,” progressively limiting lung capacity and function. In extreme cases, it can cause mesothelioma, a form of lung cancer that is most often fatal. Symptoms generally do not appear for 10 to 30 years after the exposure.
Asbestos is also known to cause bowel cancer and noncancerous lung diseases. If you’re a smoker, the risk of developing lung cancer is five times greater.
Although there was anecdotal information available for centuries that indicated health problems associated with long-term exposure to asbestos, no definitive evidence about asbestos danger was forthcoming until the mid-20th century. Preliminary studies in the 1940s and 1950s caused concern. Scientific proof was established in the early 1960s.
Individuals exposed to asbestos on the job, through their home, during their military service or through a family member, should be contact a physician regarding their asbestos exposure. A physical examination, including chest x-ray and pulmonary function tests of the lungs may be recommended to determine markers of asbestos exposure.
If you were exposed to asbestos it does not mean that you have an asbestos-caused disease. However, you should see your doctor. Symptoms can develop as long as 30 years after an initial exposure to asbestos. That is why it’s so important to visit your doctor immediately if you believe you have the symptoms of an asbestos-related disease. You should also contact an attorney at Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A., to understand what compensation you might be entitled to if you do have an asbestos-related illness.
No cure exists for asbestosis or other lung or pleural diseases caused by chronic exposure to asbestos. Treatments are available, however, to help remove any cancer that may be present and to reduce the symptoms of asbestos-related disease. Staying healthy can help minimize health complications later on.
Asbestos became a major industry early in the 20th century. It was a common product, in great demand and widely used for decades. The carcinogenic properties were not known. As soon as definitive medical evidence of serious health risk was confirmed, governments around the world initiated action to prevent asbestos use and exposure. The EPA only requires asbestos removal in order to prevent significant public exposure to airborne asbestos fibers during building demolition or renovation projects.
An exact number may never be known. Millions have been exposed, and many workers were exposed to high concentrations of asbestos over many years in certain work places. These are the most at risk. Though reports of new cases of mesothelioma have declined to less than 2,500 annually and will continue to decline in coming years, latency periods for some types of asbestos harm are still unknown, and at least minimal new case reports are anticipated for several more years.
Are You Suffering Health Issues due to Asbestos Exposure?
If so, we want to help. The injured workers lawyers at Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A., are seasoned in North Carolina workers compensation cases and want to hear what happened to you. We have defended many injured workers and are committed to getting the best possible outcome for our clients. Contact us today to speak to a member of our legal team and discuss your claim for free.