For decades, honest and hard working people in a variety of industries came in contact with asbestos on a daily basis. Little did they know that long after the last time they handled asbestos, they would come down with a rare and always fatal form of cancer: mesothelioma. Today, the dangers of asbestos are well known, and its use has largely been discontinued, but this was too late for workers that handled it two or more decades ago.
How Is Mesothelioma Contracted?
While not everyone who breathes in asbestos will get mesothelioma, everyone with mesothelioma has inhaled asbestos.
Asbestos is durable mineral that was used heavily for commercial and industrial purposes until the 1970s. As a result, many blue collar workers who handled building materials were among the most likely to develop mesothelioma. Even if a person was directly exposed to it for just a short amount of time or exposed second-hand, like the spouses of these blue collar workers who handled the material, they run the risk of developing mesothelioma.
When asbestos is mined or used for construction it can get fragmented, creating a dust that is easily inhaled. The asbestos fibers then settle deep in the lungs, making the fibers difficult to expel from the body. Over time, those fibers cause mesothelioma to develop. This can take anywhere from 20 to 50 years, and therefore it is not always clear where or how a person was exposed to asbestos.
Who Was at Risk of Inhaling Asbestos?
Blue collar workers in many fields such as construction, shipbuilding, and manufacturing to name a few, were likely exposed to asbestos at some point in their lives. However, workers in some fields were more likely to come in contact with it than others, and now run a higher risk of being diagnosed with mesothelioma as a result. Specifically, military personnel and railroad workers are among the most likely to develop mesothelioma later in life.
All branches of the military used asbestos heavily until its dangers were discovered in the 70s. Up until that point, ships, airplanes, barracks, and tanks were all built with asbestos, exposing those who built the equipment and those operating it to the mineral. In fact, so many military personnel have been diagnosed with mesothelioma that Veterans Affairs has set up a special program to compensate veterans diagnosed with it.
Railroad workers on the other hand could have been exposed in a variety of ways. Steam engines powered locomotives for decades, and the extremely hot pipes that carried the steam to power the train were all insulated with asbestos. Even as trains moved away from steam power and towards diesel, boxcars, cabooses, and even some passenger cars were still built using asbestos.
However, building the train only provided workers with an initial opportunity for exposure to asbestos. Trains require a lot of maintenance, and workers could have been exposed during the consistent work and repairs being done on the train with asbestos, or asbestos dust left on the train from repairs that anyone could inhale. Locomotive repair shop workers were also exposed to asbestos in a similar way.
What Are the Symptoms of Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a unique form of cancer that can take anywhere from 20 to 50 years to develop after a person's initial exposure. Once it does, though, these are the signs that you may have the disease:
- Chest Pain
- Persistent Cough
- Shortness of Breath
- Painful Breathing
- Loss of Appetite
- Unexplained Weight Loss
- Fluid Accumulation Around the Lung
What Can You Do if You Were Diagnosed with Mesothelioma?
If you were diagnosed with mesothelioma, it is not your fault, and you can seek to hold someone responsible for what has happened to you and your family. Generally, a lawsuit is filed against a previous employer that used asbestos in the workplace, or a company that made and advertised an asbestos product.
In order to file a mesothelioma lawsuit, though, you must prove that you were exposed to asbestos, something that likely happened decades ago. This is where one of our mesothelioma attorneys can help.
Our attorneys have witnessed first-hand what a mesothelioma diagnosis can do to a patient and their loved ones, and will comb through your employment history to find the source of your exposure. While we are aware that filing a lawsuit may not be your main priority at this time, there is a statute of limitations for filing a mesothelioma claim.
If, in the end, you decide you would like to file a claim, our attorneys will seek to make it as simple as possible. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation case evaluation to learn if you have a claim.