08/05/2010 // Chicago, IL, USA // Cooney & Conway // Mesothelioma lawyers: Cooney & Conway
They worked as mechanics, factory workers, shipbuilders, and insulators—and they had one thing in common: their job exposed them to asbestos and mesothelioma.
Years later, these men and women would have something else in common: mesothelioma, a nearly always fatal cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Some of these victims, with the aid of mesothelioma lawyers, sought and often obtained compensation. Many more died too soon. And no one had a cure.
Known for its heat- and fire-resistant qualities, asbestos was widely used in industries like construction and automobile manufacturing before it was linked to grave health risks—not just mesothelioma, but also lung cancer and asbestosis, a scarring of the lungs that can cause severe respiratory problems and death. Asbestos-related diseases can take years to develop, thus many victims were not diagnosed until decades after they inhaled asbestos fibers. But by then, there was little any doctor could do.
But those who worked around asbestos weren’t the only ones who developed mesothelioma and other cancers. Many wives, husbands, and children who inhaled the asbestos fibers on a worker’s clothes became sick as well. Many of them brought—and are still bringing—their own asbestos lawsuits, keeping mesothelioma lawyers and the court system busy.
It’s not a trend that’s expected to end anytime soon.
Diseases that are asbestos-related still take as many as 10,000 lives each year. And there are estimates that 300,000 more deaths from mesothelioma and other asbestos cancers will occur within the next three decades.
At the same time, asbestos is no longer the popular building material it once was. Its use in the U.S. has dropped dramatically from a peak of 885,000 tons in 1973 to 1,609 tons in 2008, and use now is largely limited to auto and aircraft brakes and gaskets.
But it is still present in many structures—in insulation, ceilings, and asbestos-laden parts installed long ago. Health risks rise even more when those structures are renovated or demolished. Such activity can disturb the asbestos, releasing it into the air. Asbestos fibers are then easily inhaled into the lungs and, years later, destroy lives and devastate families.
A staggering number of lives and families have been devastated by asbestos. Retired U.S. Assistant Surgeon General Dr. Richard Lemen, who consults for plaintiffs in asbestos lawsuits, has cited estimates of 189,000 to 231,000 worker deaths from all asbestos-related diseases from 1980 to 2007. “Another 270,000 to 330,000 deaths are expected to occur over the next 30 years,” he told a Senate committee in 2007. That means half a million individuals have or will die from asbestos exposure in the U.S.
A 2005 study by RAND Corp. came to a similar conclusion, projecting 432,465 asbestos-related cancer deaths from 1965 through 2029. (RAND’s figure excludes fatal cases of asbestosis.)
Mesothelioma lawyers and advocates argue that more can be done to prevent these deaths. Indeed, experts say the current U.S. workplace standard for asbestos—0.1 fiber per cubic centimeter of air—still allows a worker to inhale more than 1 million fibers over the course of a day. That level of asbestos exposure will produce five lung cancer deaths and two asbestosis deaths for every 1,000 workers, according to officials at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Meanwhile, it’s not just workers who should be worried. Laboratory tests commissioned by the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, a victim advocacy group, have revealed the presence of asbestos in a surprising array of products, from window glazing made in the U.S. to a toy fingerprint kit made in China.
The bottom line: We all have something in common living in a world where asbestos remains a deadly hazard—decades after its health risks became known.
This news story was brought to you by the mesothelioma lawyers at Cooney & Conway. For more than half a century, we have been advocates for those injured because of the wrongful actions of others. We have litigated and resolved some of the nation’s most significant asbestos lawsuits, bringing justice—and compensation—to victims of asbestos exposure and the lung cancer, mesothelioma, and other deadly diseases it can cause.
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