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Asbestos fibers are microscopic fibers which include six classificastions: chrysotile, crocidolite, amosite, anthophyllite, tremolite, and actinolite. Due to its resistance to heat and durability, asbestos was used commercially and industrially for many years in the manufacturing of products such as roofing shingles, floor tiles, ceiling materials, cement compounds, and textile products. Unfortunately, asbestos has been linked to several common, severe respiratory and lung conditions.

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What is Asbestos?

Beginning in the late 1970s there were concerns that asbestos was dangerous. Although asbestos was used in many products, its fibers could be easily inhaled by humans, attaching to the lungs and tissues in the body. Eventually the material was labeled a carcinogen. Experts now understand that prolonged exposure to asbestos can greatly increase the risk of individuals acquiring severe respiratory conditions including lung cancer, mesothelioma (an aggressive cancer in the lung and lining called the mesothelium), and asbestosis (a non-malignant respiratory condition). If you have been exposed to asbestos and have developed a severe health condition, you may have the right to compensation including payment for pain and suffering, medical expenses, and lost wages. Workers most at risk for harmful exposure to asbestos include any persons who have worked with asbestos in manufacturing, shipbuilding, construction, or power plants. Talk to an injury lawyer if you have questions about your health condition.

What is Asbestos used for?

Chrysotile is still used in the following:

  • Drywall
  • Plaster
  • Mud and texture coats
  • Vinyl Floors
  • Roofing tars
  • Siding
  • Shingles
  • Sheeting
  • Adhesives
  • Joint Compound
  • Countertops
  • Pipes
  • Popcorn Ceilings
  • Fireproofing
  • Fire-resistant asbestos gloves
  • Caulk
  • Industrial and marine gaskets
  • Brake pads
  • Brake Shoes
  • Fire Blankets
  • Interior fire doors
  • Stage curtains
  • Thermal pipe insulation
  • Dental cast linings
  • Fireproof clothing for firefighters
  • Drilling fluid additives
  • HVAC flexible duct connectors

Asbestos Usage and Statistics

The first use of asbestos is believed to date back to the ancient Greeks. Considered a miracle material, the word originates from a Greek word which means inextinguishable. It was first used to produce a variety of clothing and textiles in the early Holy Roman Empire due to its heat and fire-resistant properties. Concerns about the risk of asbestos were also recognized by philosophers within the early Roman Empire who realized that miners working in asbestos mines frequently developed severe pulmonary conditions and died. Warnings were not heeded, however, as the use of asbestos increased during the Industrial Revolution to create a variety of new products. Asbestos was also used in a variety of industries including ship building and chemical refineries. Later asbestos was used within the automobile industry for brakes and clutches, and in the construction industry for the production of cement, ceiling tiles, plaster, and roofing shingles. Despite the known risk of asbestos, the United States has not officially banned its use. There have, however, been some legislative actions to increase the safe use of the product and to ensure that workers who have suffered due to exposure are compensated for their injuries. For example, The Black Lung Benefits Act created a program for U.S. coal miners who have been exposed to asbestos and have suffered injury.

How Asbestos Works

Asbestos is a natural occurring group of fibrous minerals including chrystotile and amphibole (further subdivided into crocidolite, amosite, anthophyllite, tremolite and actinolite). Asbestos is heat-resistant, can be woven, and is very strong. Asbestos are silicate compounds, meaning they contain atoms of silicon and oxygen in their molecular structure.Currently up to 95% of asbestos products are compromised of chrystotile asbestos. This type of asbestos is less dangerous than the amphibole asbestos, which is most likely to cause mesothelioma. Chrystotile asbestos, however, remains a carcinogen and is quite dangerous.

Side Effects of Asbestos

  • Experts have warned about asbestos exposure for decades. Exposure can cause a variety of health conditions including lung cancer, asbestosis, and mesothelioma. Symptoms can include the following:
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pains
  • Persistent Cough
  • Hoarseness
  • Anemia
  • Scarred lung tissue
  • Dry, cracking sound when breathing
  • Pneumonia-like symptoms

Asbestos Medical Studies

Asbestos use allows small tiny fibers to be released into the air which can be breathed in by individuals. These fibers then can be trapped in the lungs, remain there for years, causing scarring, inflammation, and other serious health conditions. Medical studies have provided evidence that exposure to asbestos can increase the risk of mesothelioma and lung cancer. Other studies indicate there may be a correlation between increased risk of colorectal cancer, throat cancer, kidney cancer, esophageal cancer, and gallbladder cancer, although medical experts agree the evidence is not conclusive.

Asbestos Black Box Warnings

  • Millions of American workers have been exposed to dangerous levels of asbestos. Whether you have been employed in asbestos mining and milling, producing asbestos products, constructing buildings with asbestos related products, demolishing buildings, or building ships, you may suffer from any of the following:
  • Asbestosis
  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing
  • Permanent lung damage
  • Pleural disorders
  • Pleural plaque
  • Pleural thickening
  • Pleural Effusions
  • Increased risk for lung cancer

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