Decades after the federal government banned most uses of asbestos here in the United States, the number of deaths related to this naturally occurring mineral continue to cause distress for agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The agency may expect people over the age of 85 to suffer and die from mesothelioma, and may not even be surprised by the number of people between the ages of 75 and 84 with the asbestos-related disease who have passed away. However, the hundreds of people between the ages of 25 and 44 continue to puzzle and alarm the CDC.
A bit of background
Asbestos was widely used for decades due to its heat-resistant and fire-resistant qualities. Construction materials and vehicle brakes saw a large amount of asbestos-laden parts and products. Even consumer products such as cigarette filters and hair dryers used to contain the toxic material.
Beginning in the 1970s, the Environmental Protection Agency began banning its use once it linked it with the rare lung cancer, mesothelioma, caused by a buildup of scar tissue in the lining of the lungs, abdomen, heart and chest. Asbestos has since been linked to a variety of other cancers such as the following:
Occupational exposure remains the most prevalent way that people suffer exposure to asbestos. Even over four decades later, people still suffer exposure and illnesses related to this virulent and dangerous natural material. Perhaps the most frustrating part of this issue is that it can take anywhere from 20 to 50 years for an exposed person to exhibit symptoms and receive a diagnosis of an asbestos-related illness such as mesothelioma.
A bit of caution
If you work in certain industries, your doctor should look for signs during routine physical examinations. If you go to the doctor with certain symptoms, your doctor should screen you as well. This means that you will need to warn your doctor that you may suffer from asbestos exposure. Even so, prescreening does not appear to help, but that doesn't mean your doctor, or any doctor you see, should not be aware of your exposure and keep an eye out for illnesses derived from it.
You may help limit your exposure by using the proper equipment at work, but that may not be a guarantee either. You may want to consult with an attorney now to understand your rights and know how you can legally protect yourself now and in the future.