In earlier years, many victims of mesothelioma asbestos cancer believed their illness could not have been prevented. Companies described ignorance of the dangers of asbestos, and little or no knowledge that employees were at risk for malignant mesothelioma if they were exposed to asbestos dust. Because of this common perception, many workers injured by mesothelioma did not seek legal compensation, and instead struggled on their own with asbestos cancer.
However, today it is clear that many cases of malignant mesothelioma could have been prevented. More importantly, companies knew that asbestos could potentially cause malignant mesothelioma, and they also knew what steps to take for worker protection. Instead, these companies claimed ignorance and left workers open to the dangers of asbestos cancer.
The Danger Of Asbestos
Asbestos was introduced in the 1890s. The fibers were mined and then shipped for processing, where they were milled into a fine dust. This dust was then added to numerous compounds, ending up in insulation, fireproofing, cement, floor tiles, joint compounds, and much more. Employees were regularly put at risk whenever working with these materials. The fibers of asbestos themselves were dangerous, but also had a very high tendency to become airborne. The slightest disturbance could kick them into the air, and they tended to resist settling again, sometimes remaining aloft for weeks.
When airborne, the asbestos particles were breathed in by the workers who were laboring around them. The fibers, breathed in like this, became a direct cause of asbestos cancer and many other terrible diseases. Even worse, the danger wasn’t limited to those working directly with asbestos. Anyone in the vicinity of a site using the material, or on a vessel transporting the material, or cleaning up a site where the material had been used would be at risk for malignant mesothelioma as well.
What Is Malignant Mesothelioma?
Malignant mesothelioma is one of the most common and most tragic results of this type of asbestos exposure. It is a cancer of the mesothelium, the lining around most organs of the body, including the heart, lungs, and stomach. When the mesothelium is afflicted with cancer, it is invaded by tumors. This may mean one large tumor, but frequently it means many smaller tumors. These masses stop the mesothelium from functioning properly and are very painful.
Mesothelioma most commonly arises in the pleura, the mesothelial lining outside of the lungs. The majority of other cases appear in the peritoneum, the lining outside of the stomach. It is important to note that asbestos cancer isn’t lung cancer or stomach cancer, although the tumors can easily metastasize, spreading into the lungs and stomach.
How Companies Put Workers At Risk
You may just be learning about the dangers of asbestos exposure, but your company may have known about them as early as the 1920s. Yet despite this knowledge, manufacturers and vendors of asbestos products failed to issue warnings about asbestos cancer until as late as the 1970s. Some companies never provided warnings at all, even as the link between asbestos cancer and asbestos became clear.
Because of the lack of warning, many people are now realizing that companies can be held accountable for the reckless practices that resulted in malignant mesothelioma. Hardworking employees just doing their jobs ended up in danger from exposure through no fault of their own, yet their companies offered no information or protection. Even more tragically, family members were often exposed to asbestos carried home on the clothing of loved ones working with deadly substance. The amount of particles required to cause asbestos cancer is small, and many victims became sick just because of the particles on the clothes of their father, mother, brother, sister, husband, or wife.
How Workers Can Fight Back
If you have been diagnosed with asbestos cancer, you may have a right to legal action against the company that exposed you. Your best course of action is to find an experienced attorney who will take the time to review your case and perform the detailed investigation that is sometimes necessary to determine the origin of your exposure.
With the right attorney at your side, you can make sure the company that failed to protect you is held accountable for its actions. You can be compensated for their deficient warnings, helping you and your family in your battle with asbestos cancer.