Know More About Asbestos and Mesothelioma

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People continue to be exposed to asbestos worldwide, which has been linked to mesothelioma and other diseases. Learn more online from mesotheliomanews.com.

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Know More About Asbestos and Mesothelioma

  1. 1. What you need to know today about asbestos Frequently Asked Questions
  2. 2. Say the word “asbestos” and most people think you are mentioning something from the past – something that has no relevance to people today. But that perception is far from accurate. Shockingly, asbestos, a known carcinogen, is responsible for approximately 10,000 deaths a year in the United States alone. And due to powerful industry lobbying, the use of asbestos is still not banned in the United States. As one of the first law firms to ever successfully win an asbestos cancer lawsuit, Baron & Budd is proud of the work we have done to expose the companies responsible for knowingly exposing innocent people to asbestos. And we are proud that, over and over again, we have been able to seek and win financial compensation for our clients, the victims of this terrible tragedy. In addition to representing people in the courtroom we also consider it part of our duty to inform and educate the public about the dangers of asbestos. We hope that this brochure is helpful and encourage you to call or email us, day or night, with your questions. Thank you for your interest in this important environmental issue. Russell W. Budd
  3. 3. 4 5 Why is asbestos a problem today? During the last century asbestos was widely used in all types of construction. For example, it was frequently used in drywall compounds, paint texturing, ceiling texturing, gaskets, sheetrock and other routine construction materials. During the construction process many workers were exposed to asbestos as they worked to build homes and other buildings. The common practice of using asbestos in building materials continued through the 1970s. Since the latency period of asbestos-related cancer is so long, the problem today is twofold: one, people who worked in construction or in other contaminated environments decades ago are just now becoming sick; and two, the buildings originally constructed with materials that contained asbestos are now often being remodeled, which means that the dangerous material is once again being released into the air. Wouldn’t I have known if I was exposed to asbestos on the job? Many people have been exposed to asbestos without their knowledge. For example, common construction materials such as sheetrock, “popcorn” ceiling materials, vinyl floor tiles, gaskets and other construction materials contained large amounts of asbestos and were manufactured and installed for decades without any warning labels or caution given to workers. Asbestos may not have even been listed as a product ingredient. Also, asbestos often breaks off and becomes airborne in such small pieces that it is invisible to the human eye. Yet even those invisible particle can be inhaled and cause asbestos cancers. Why is asbestos exposure a health hazard? The health risks of asbestos occur when these tiny fibers are released into the air through normal handling of the material and are breathed or ingested. The asbestos fibers also can eventually trigger cancers like mesothelioma and lung cancer. Is asbestos still being manufactured and used today? Over 50 countries today have banned the use of asbestos but due to powerful industry lobbying, the United States is not one of them. Products containing asbestos are still allowed into the U.S. in the form of some construction materials and auto parts, to name a few. Is there any safe level of exposure to asbestos? The overwhelming worldwide scientific consensus is that there is no safe level of exposure. Although overall risk rises with increased exposure, even Over 50 countries today have banned the use of asbestos but due to powerful industry lobbying, the United States is not one of them.
  4. 4. 7 one small exposure has been reported to trigger the type of cancer that is only caused by asbestos. Is the asbestos problem overhyped? The World Health organization calculated that in 2009 over 90,000 deaths were directly linked to asbestos exposure worldwide. If my house was built before 1975 does it contain asbestos? How do I know for sure? If your home was built prior to 1975, chances are that it does have asbestos in it. The good news is that, left undisturbed, the asbestos is not harmful. A certified asbestos technician is the only person who can accurately evaluate your home and tell you if you have areas of concern. See http://www.epa.gov for a list of asbestos technicians. How do I protect myself if I have asbestos in my home? If you have asbestos in your home it is important to leave the area containing asbestos alone. When asbestos is sealed in a wall or covered with paint, it is not a hazard. The hazard occurs when the construction materials containing asbestos are broken into and the fibers are released into the air. Do not begin any remodeling of your home without proper inspection if you think there might be asbestos. Do not begin any remodeling of your home without proper inspection if you think there might be asbestos. The person in this photo is not a client of Baron & Budd.
  5. 5. 8 I’m concerned that I may have been recently exposed in my rental apartment or school. What do I do? If you are concerned that you were exposed to asbestos through an apartment you rent or a school you attend, you should contact the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asbestos ombudsman and the asbestos coordinator through your state’s environmental agency for assistance. The EPA has jurisdiction over asbestos exposure in schools as well as housing containing four or more units. You can find their contact information on the EPA’s website at www.epa.gov/asbestos. What is my risk of developing cancer if I worked with asbestos products years ago? Fortunately, not everyone who works with construction or other products containing asbestos develops a related disease. The percentage of people is relatively small. Yet there are many cases where people developed the disease after just a short-term exposure to products containing asbestos, or exposure to products brought home via dust on a family member’s clothing. The EPA has jurisdiction over asbestos exposure in schools as well as housing containing four or more units. For more information go to www.epa.gov/asbestos.
  6. 6. 10 11 Are there tests I need to undergo if I am concerned about asbestos exposure? Because asbestos exposure can cause both cancer and noncancerous conditions such as asbestosis and pleural disease, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends that people with a history of occupational exposure to asbestos undergo periodic health testing. These tests generally include a chest X-ray and lung function tests, as well as an evaluation of the patient’s overall health and his or her history of asbestos exposure. If you are concerned about exposure to asbestos in the past and believe you should be tested, please consult with your doctor. What types of diseases are caused by asbestos exposure? What are the symptoms? Asbestos exposure can cause certain forms of cancer, as well as noncancerous but debilitating lung conditions. Generally symptoms begin as shortness of breath, pain in the chest or abdomen, fatigue, weight loss and perhaps build-up of fluid on the wall of the lungs or abdomen. How long do these diseases take to develop? Asbestos-related diseases take a long time to develop. In most cases, the amount of time between a person’s initial exposure to asbestos and the development of disease–the “latency period”–can range from 15 to 30 years or even 60 years or more. That is why some people who were exposed to products containing asbestos decades ago are just now developing diseases like mesothelioma. I do not know if the products I worked with or around contained asbestos, but many of my co-workers have developed asbestos- related diseases. What were some of the types of products that contained asbestos? Many products have been shown to contain asbestos. While the number is too large for a detailed listing here, we’ve listed below some of the general types of products that are known to have contained asbestos in years past. For more information about asbestos-containing products, visit www.mesotheliomanews.com. • Drywall materials • Joint compounds • Plaster • Certain types of paint and texture products • Roofing materials • Floor tiles and adhesives • Gaskets • Pump packings • Cement pipe • Pipe covering • Valve packings • Valves • Engines • Oil derrick drilling mud • Elevator shaft materials • Various materials on Naval and merchant ships • Various materials on railroad locomotives and equipment • Various home and commercial construction materials Our law firm devotes our asbestos practice to representing people who have been diagnosed with asbestos- related diseases like mesothelioma.
  7. 7. 12 13 Also, asbestos exposure has placed a variety of trades at certain types of workplaces at risk for development of asbestos-related diseases. Here is a partial list of such workplaces: • Construction sites • Chemical plants • Steel mills • Shipyards • Manufacturing plants I have been tested for asbestos-related diseases and fortunately, my doctor has given me a clean bill of health. But I’m still worried about developing an asbestos-related disease in the future. Do I have a legal claim based on my exposure history alone? Under the law of many states, you can only pursue a personal injury claim for asbestos exposure if you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease. In many states, you may have a basis for “medical monitoring” and/ or “fear of cancer” claims. Our law firm devotes our asbestos practice to representing people who have been diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma. If you have not been diagnosed with an asbestos disease but are concerned about asbestos exposure and your legal rights, we hope that the resources provided in this pamphlet are helpful to you. How much time do I have to pursue legal help if I am diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease? The law provides a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit for an asbestos- related disease. If you do not bring your case within the time limit–called the “statute of limitations”–you may be barred from ever seeking compensation for your injuries. The amount of time you have to file a case will depend on a number of factors and differs from state to state but it is generally no more than two years from date of diagnosis. If you ever are diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, it is wise to contact an attorney as soon as possible in order to pursue your claim within the time limits required by law. Where can I learn more? You can learn more about asbestos and the diseases it causes by visiting the following websites: www.mesotheliomanews.com This comprehensive website, contains a wealth of information about asbestos exposure, mesothelioma, treatment options, resources for patients and family members, and up-to-date news on asbestos and mesothelioma. www.epa.gov/asbestos The Environmental Protection Agency’s website has a great deal of information about asbestos exposure, especially in homes and schools. The law provides a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit for an asbestos-related disease. • Smelters • Paper mills • Drilling rigs–land-based and offshore
  8. 8. 14 www.osha.gov The Occupational Safety and Health Organization (OSHA)’s website provides comprehensive information about asbestos, including safety regulations governing asbestos in the workplace. www.cdc.gov/niosh.topics/asbestos The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health’s website provides information about occupational exposure to asbestos and disease. www.cpsc.gov The Consumer Product Safety Commission contains information about hazardous consumer products, including products containing asbestos. www.asbestosdiseaseawareness.org The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) is a non-profit dedicated to giving a voice to asbestos victims, advocating for a ban on asbestos, supporting medical research, and educating the public and the medical community about asbestos. www.ewg.org The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a nonprofit that has compiled a lot of research about asbestos. You can find this information through the “chemical index” tab on their website. Baron & Budd, P.C. Main Office: 3102 Oak Lawn Avenue, Suite 1100, Dallas, TX 75219 800-946-9646 info@baronbudd.com Other Offices: Austin, Texas; Los Angeles, California; Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  9. 9. Protecting What’s Right® Copyright Baron & Budd, P.C. © 2010

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