Asbestos is the generic name for any variety of silicate materials that are fibrous in structure and are more resistant to acid and heat than many other materials. Asbestos has two forms, serpentine and amphibole, and is made of impure magnesium silicate. The six types of asbestos are chrysotile, crocidolite, amosite, anthophyllite asbestos, tremolite asbestos, and actinolite asbestos. Chrysotile asbestos is serpentine and amosite and crocidolite are amphibole. Chrysotile has historically been the chief commercial asbestos fiber type. Amosite is often used in insulating materials and crocidolite is normally used in the manufacture of asbestos-cement products. Asbestos is mined from the ground where it is typically found in veins and large deposits. Canada, Russia, and South Africa are the world’s largest producers of asbestos, although there were asbestos mines in the United States, including California and Montana. Once asbestos ore has been removed from the ground, it is milled and processed into a usable product demonstrating high tensile strength, chemical and thermal stability, high flexibility, low electrical conductivity, and large surface area.
Millions of workers in the United States and abroad have suffered severe exposure to the environmental toxin, asbestos. Asbestos has been mined and used commercially since the late 1800s. Its use greatly increased during World War II. Shipyard workers, people who worked in asbestos mines and mills, producers of asbestos products, workers in the a/c or heating industries, construction workers, electricians, plumbers/pipefitters, automotive mechanics, laborers, and other tradespeople have likely suffered occupational exposures to asbestos. Asbestos is found in a wide variety of products with an array of differing industries and applications.
Examples of products that might contain asbestos are:
- Sprayed-on fire proofing and insulation in buildings
- Insulation for pipes and boilers
- Gaskets and packing for pumps, valves, and compressor
- Wall and ceiling insulation
- Ceiling tiles
- Floor tiles
- Putties, caulks, stucco, and cements
- Roofing shingles
- Siding shingles buildings and homes
- Wall and ceiling texture in buildings and homes
- Joint compound in buildings and homes
- Water or sewer pipe
- Electrical wiring and electrical components
- Brake linings, clutch pads, automotive gaskets, mufflers
- Welding and fire blankets
Since the turn of the twentieth century, scientific and medical evidence has increasingly demonstrated that working with or around asbestos cause's irreparable lung damage and cancer in persons working with and around asbestos and asbestos-containing products, as well as those persons living near industrial facilities where asbestos was manufactured or used. Asbestos is recognized as a potent class-one carcinogen, meaning that all types of asbestos cause cancer in humans. There is no "safe level" of asbestos exposure in humans and asbestos-related diseases can occur even with minimal exposures to asbestos. However, people who are exposed more frequently over a long period of time are generally subject to a greater risk or disease.
Although unknown to asbestos workers and users of asbestos-containing products, manufacturers and suppliers of asbestos and asbestos-containing products well knew of the severe health risks to humans associated with working with or around asbestos. Despite their specific knowledge that asbestos caused irreparable lung damage and fatal cancers, asbestos companies continued to manufacture, sell and use asbestos in products and construction. Even though many materials were available as safer alternatives to replace asbestos, companies that used asbestos ignored the safer materials. Instead, asbestos companies turned their head from the recognized dangers of asbestos, many times fraudulently concealing the truth or outright lying about the hazards of working with or around asbestos, for the sake of profits. Asbestos companies sacrificed worker and consumer safety in reverence to their corporate pocketbooks. The conduct of the asbestos companies is especially egregious, however, because the victims were largely exploited workers who were unaware of the serious health risks they were exposed to on a daily basis only to learn decades later that they had subjected themselves to exposure to a carcinogenic substance.
Asbestos is the known cause of pleural plaques, asbestosis and mesothelioma, and causes cancers of the lung, esophagus, and colon. Asbestos divides into visible strands, fiber bundles, and individual fibers, but then those visible strands, bundles, and fibers will continue to split into microscopic fibers, bundles, and strands. The splitting can continue on to minute levels of microscopic levels of detection. This process is unique to asbestos and is one reason why airborne asbestos is such a problem. The fibers can become so small that they remain airborne longer and pass unhindered by the normal respiratory dust defenses. Diseases caused by asbestos have a long latency period, usually taking ten to forty years before showing any symptoms of the disease. This is especially apparent today, when people who worked with installing asbestos as insulation and other materials throughout the 1950s and beyond are just now coming to realize that they are developing cancer and other asbestos-caused diseases at alarming rates.
Free Case Evaluation
If you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos or have been diagnosed with any asbestos disease, including lung cancer and mesothelioma, Contact us. We can help you understand your rights and options, and see that you have the opportunity to seek compensation for your injuries.
Contact us for a free evaluation of your case and to discuss your rights under the law.