Asbestos causes an estimated 255,000 deaths annually. Many of these deaths are preventable, and yet the United States has still failed to ban this dangerous substance. While asbestos is not currently mined in the United States and most companies have largely stopped using it, it is imported from other countries and is still present in homes and buildings.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that is insulating, fire-resistant, and strong, and was therefore used as a popular building material. The substance was used in roofing, tiles, insulation, shingles, and pipes. It was also found in automobile brakes and clutches and in heat-resistant fabrics and materials.
Many older buildings and machines in the United States that were manufactured before regulations were put into place still contain asbestos. This is especially true in cities like New York where many of the buildings are older, and much of the infrastructure is decaying. In July of 2018, a pipe exploded in Manhattan, coating the Flatiron district in asbestos-filled muck. The cleanup took several days and residents, and first responders were exposed to the dangerous substance.
Why is Asbestos Dangerous?
Asbestos fibers commonly enter the body through breathing. Asbestos is not generally considered dangerous until it starts releasing dust and fibers that can be inhaled or ingested. Once these fibers pass into the lungs, they become very dangerous because the body can’t break them down or remove them. The fibers and dust remain in the lungs or other parts of the body and can cause serious diseases including:
- Asbestosis–a serious non-cancerous respiratory disease that occurs when inhaled asbestos fibers cause lung tissue to scar. The disease causes trouble breathing and can lead to death.
- Lung Cancer–the leading cause of death from asbestos exposure. Symptoms include shortness of breath, hoarseness, and chest pain. Many workers who were exposed to asbestos on a regular basis suffer from lung cancer.
- Mesothelioma–a rare form of cancer that occurs in the membrane lining the lungs, chest, abdomen, and heart. Almost all cases of mesothelioma are linked to asbestos exposure. It is estimated that 3,000 people in the United Statesare diagnosed with mesothelioma annually.
Who is at Risk for Asbestos Exposure?
Everyone is exposed to some asbestos as it can be found in the air, water, and soil. But individuals who are subject to long-term exposure to asbestos are the most at risk for becoming ill. These include:
- Construction workers
- Insulation workers
- Firefighters and other first responders
- Maintenance workers
- People living or working in older buildings with damaged insulation, ceilings and floor tiles
- Family members of asbestos workers
Contact an Experienced Attorney
If you believe that you have become ill due to asbestos exposure, you should have an experienced attorney evaluate your case. At Bonina & Bonina, P.C., we have over 50 years of experience helping injured New Yorkers. Contact us onlineor call us at 1-888-MEDLAW1 to schedule your free consultation. Home and hospital visits are available. Se habla español.