Hundreds of deaths and thousands of illnesses have been linked to asbestos exposure in the now-defunct W.R. Grace and Co. mine in Libby, Montana. Recently, more than 1,000 victims were awarded a $25 million settlement in a lawsuit alleging that Libby miners were never warned about the contaminated mine. The settlement, which involves nearly 100 lawsuits, claims that Montana health officials failed to protect victims. The state, however, argues that it had no legal obligation to warn workers.
What is Asbestos?
This settlement serves as a reminder that asbestos-related illnesses and deaths are still a significant problem in the United States. Exposure to asbestos, a naturally-occurring mineral made up of fine fibers, can lead to serious health conditions, such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, and cancer. Before its health risks were known, asbestos was commonly used in everyday products, including insulation and protective gear, due to its heat and fire-resistant properties. If you have suffered harm due to asbestos exposure, contact a Boston personal injury lawyer today.
Although most spray-applied asbestos products were banned in the early 1970s, the mineral has not been eradicated from all work environments and is still commonly found in mines and factories. Further, asbestos-related diseases often lay dormant for decades. For this reason, up to 3,000 workers exposed to asbestos decades ago are still being diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases on an annual basis. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), about 11 million people were exposed to this dangerous mineral between 1940 and 1978.
Asbestos-Related Medical Conditions
There are multiple health complications related to long-term asbestos exposure. These include:
- Mesothelioma (asbestos-related cancer of the lungs and / or abdomen)
- Asbestosis (a lung disease caused by the inhalation of asbestos particles, comes with a high risk of developing Mesothelioma)
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- Lung cancer
- Laryngeal cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Pleural thickening (when scar tissue forms in the thin membrane surrounding the lungs)
- Pleural effusion (buildup of excess fluid around the lungs)
- Kidney disease
What is Mesothelioma?
Studies show that up to 10 percent of people with long-term exposure to asbestos will develop a condition known as pleural mesothelioma. This serious, potentially-life threatening form of cancer most often forms in the pleura around the lungs. In 2013, nearly 2,500 people died of Mesothelioma in the United States. Symptoms of Mesothelioma include:
- Abdominal swelling
- Loss of appetite
- Chest pains
- Coughing with blood
- Difficulty breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Fluid buildup in chest
- Night sweats
Of course, any of these symptoms can be related to other medical conditions. However, if you believe that you’ve suffered long-term exposure to asbestos, even if the exposure occurred 40 or 50 years ago, it may be wise to consult with your healthcare provider. If you have suffered injury or illness due to exposure to this harmful substance, contact a MA personal injury lawyer today.
Altman & Altman, LLP – Mesothelioma Injury Lawyers Serving All of Massachusetts
If you have suffered any type of work-related injury, the skilled legal team at Altman & Altman, LLP can help. Mesothelioma lawsuits are particularly complex because the cause of the disease often occurred decades earlier. In many cases, the employer responsible for the asbestos exposure has been out of business for years. For this reason, Mesothelioma trust funds exist to protect victims who cannot sue a defunct employer. Companies that exposed workers to asbestos often file for bankruptcy as protection from lawsuits. To protect workers, Federal laws mandate that these companies establish trust funds to compensate current and future Mesothelioma victims. If you have been diagnosed with Mesothelioma, asbestosis, or any other asbestos-related illness, we can help. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.