Asbestos Injury and Mesothelioma Lawyers in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania is a big, diverse state with just about everything but mountains and deserts. Rural areas, a major city, suburbs, heavy industry, small factories, and farms. No matter where they lived or where they worked, Pennsylvanians were exposed to asbestos for decades, suffering the deadly consequences of industries far more concerned about profits than safety.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a mineral fiber whose qualities make it ideal for many purposes. It is:
- Chemical, fire, and heat-resistant
- Nonconductive of electricity
- Corrosion resistant
It was plentiful and cheap during its peak use, but that largely ended in the late 1970s when it was largely regulated off the market. Asbestos played many roles in steel plants, power plants, factories, office buildings, apartments, homes, ships, and cars and aircraft. Most of the thousands of products containing it took advantage of its heat and fire-resistant properties.
Why is Asbestos Dangerous?
Asbestos fibers are tiny and light. When asbestos-containing products are applied, repaired, removed, or replaced, fibers are liberated into the air. Unless they’re using sufficient safety gear, anyone in the area can inhale or swallow them.
In areas where there was heavy asbestos use, clouds of fibers could float through the workplace. It would eventually settle on equipment, furnishings, or floors where they could be disturbed and sent back into the air.
After being inhaled or swallowed, asbestos fibers can cause severe breathing problems (asbestosis), lung cancer, and different forms of another lethal cancer – mesothelioma, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. This may occur years or decades after exposure ended.
Asbestos fibers become stuck in the lungs. This causes inflammation and scarring. Swallowed asbestos fibers may pass through the digestive system and lodge into abdominal organs and tissue. The immune system will try but fail to destroy them.
Inhaling enough asbestos fibers can cause severe scarring and inflammation, resulting in asbestosis. Asbestos is also linked to:
- Lung cancer, particularly among those who smoked
- Pleural mesothelioma, which affects the membranes lining the lungs and chest cavity
- Peritoneal mesothelioma, a cancer of the tissue lining the abdominal cavity and organs
- Pericardial mesothelioma, which impacts the membrane lining the heart
The fact asbestos fibers were practically indestructible made them so deadly. They remain in the body for decades, slowly causing deadly tissue mutations.
Why is Mesothelioma So Dangerous?
Pleural mesothelioma is treatable, but there’s no cure. Treatment may reduce your symptoms and improve your quality of life for a time, but it won’t cure you.
The American Cancer Society estimates that about 12% of those with the condition will survive five years after diagnosis. If it’s limited to one area, that improves to 20%. If it’s spread to other body parts, the average decreases to 8%.
A study of pericardial mesothelioma patients states patients lived, on average, two months after diagnosis. A 2013 European Journal of Cancer article discussed the outcomes of 108 people with peritoneal mesothelioma. Almost half (43.6%) survived seven or more years after their treatment ended.
For comparison, here are overall five-year survival rates for other cancers:
- Colon cancer 64%
- Liver cancer 20%
- Lung cancer 26%
- Melanoma 93%
Your outcome depends on many factors, including your disease’s type and sub-type, overall health, and age.
How Was Asbestos Used in Pennsylvania?
Over the years, thousands of asbestos-containing products were used in Pennsylvania. They were in vehicles, homes, schools, apartment buildings, hospitals, power plants, steel mills, shipyards, and factories. Some of the products include:
- Insulation materials for buildings, including insulation for boilers, steam pipes, and ductwork
- Roofing materials, shingles, and tiles
- Insulation in electrical equipment
- Flooring materials, linoleum, vinyl tile, and glues and mastics used with them
- Textured paint, drywall, and patching compounds
- Fireproofing materials sprayed inside large buildings and ships
- Automotive brake pads and clutch discs
- Heat-resistant fabrics and clothing
- Gaskets and seals in machinery
- Cement pipes
- Textiles, such as asbestos gloves and clothing
Companies that mined and processed asbestos were always looking for new uses and markets to boost sales. They succeeded in making asbestos a common, everyday product worldwide, including in Pennsylvania.
What Were Prominent Pennsylvania Locations With Asbestos?
1. Production Facilities in PA
Ambler, Pennsylvania, about 14 miles north of Philadelphia, was the site of the world’s largest asbestos manufacturing facility, reports the University of Pennsylvania. It was started by Keasbey & Mattison and changed hands over the years. The last owner, Nicolet Industries, bought it in 1962.
The facility made asbestos-containing products for more than a hundred years (1882 to 1987). It started with textiles and included cement sheets, millboards, shingles, tiles, gloves, brake pads, gasket material, and spray-on fireproofing.
The city had several large piles of asbestos debris known as the “white mountains of Ambler.” Residents, including children, used sleds to slide down them as if they were made of snow.
Raybestos, later known as Raymark, operated plants in Hatboro and Manheim. The company is best known for its asbestos-containing brake parts. The Manheim plant ran from 1906 to 1998.
In 1937, Corning Glass Works and PPG Industries formed the joint venture Pittsburgh Corning Corp. (PCC). From 1964 to 1972, after buying the rights to produce an asbestos-containing pipe insulation, Unibestos, from UNARCO, PCC started operations in Port Allegany, Pennsylvania, and Tyler, Texas. After hundreds of thousands of lawsuits, PCC declared bankruptcy in 2000.
2. Steel Plants in PA
Asbestos was commonly used in steel mills in Pennsylvania as heat insulation for boilers, pipes, and other equipment and fireproofing. Some Pennsylvania steel mills that had asbestos in them include:
- Allegheny Ludlum Steel Corporation in Brackenridge
- Bethlehem Steel Corporation in Bethlehem and Johnstown
- Jones and Laughlin Steel Corporation in Aliquippa and Pittsburgh
- LTV Steel Company in Aliquippa
- National Steel Corporation in Monessen
- US Steel Corporation in Clairton, Fairless Hills, Homestead, Johnstown, McKeesport, Monessen, and Pittsburgh
During the state’s steel production peak, thousands of employees were regularly exposed to asbestos.
3. Power Plants in PA
Asbestos was used in power plants throughout Pennsylvania as insulation for boilers, turbines, pipes, and on other equipment exposed to or generating high heat. These plants include:
- Chester Water Power Company in Chester
- Conemaugh Power Station in New Florence
- Edison Electric Illuminating Company in Chester, Conshohocken, Norristown, Phoenixville, Pottsville, Reading, Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Williamsport, and York
- Girard Point Power Plant in Philadelphia
- Reading Power Company in Reading
- Sunbury Power Company in Sunbury
Power plants in hospitals, colleges, and large manufacturing facilities also had asbestos.
4. Shipyards in PA
Shipbuilding and repair greatly expanded during World War II. US Navy, Coast Guard, and merchant marine ships were built and repaired up and down the country’s coasts.
Ships were floating power plants that produced electricity to run the ship and turn propellers. Vast amounts of asbestos were used on ships as insulation and fireproofing. Fire is a deadly threat to ships, especially in wartime, so asbestos fireproofing was liberally used throughout these vessels.
Some Philadelphia area shipyards where asbestos was used include:
- Cramps Shipyard
- Sun Shipbuilding and Drydock Company
- US Navy Yard
Shipyard workers, contractors, suppliers, and those working in warehouses and offices were exposed to asbestos.
If You Have an Asbestos-Related Health Condition in PA, We Can Help
If you or a loved one worked in Pennsylvania and developed mesothelioma, contact Satterley & Kelley. We have handled cases for clients involving asbestos exposure for years, recovering tens of millions of dollars in compensation for our clients. Satterley & Kelley can help you recover from an injury you never should’ve suffered. Call us at 855-385-9532 or fill out our online contact form today.