Asbestos exposure is associated with several types of cancer beyond mesothelioma. No matter your diagnosis, if there’s a connection between your cancer and asbestos, you may have a legal right to compensation for the harm you suffer. Satterley & Kelley, PLLC helps those affected by asbestos get the compensation they deserve.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a group of naturally occurring, fibrous minerals, according to the American Cancer Society (ACA). They are found all over the world and consist mainly of silicon and oxygen.
These fibers are incredibly light but strong. They’re also resistant to heat, fire, chemicals, and electricity. Thousands of asbestos-containing products were made and sold for literally thousands of years.
There are three types of fibers, and they’ve all been linked with causing cancer. If not for their toxicity, asbestos fibers made excellent insulation, automotive parts, building materials, textiles, and hundreds of other products.
Their use greatly expanded during the Industrial Revolution, World War II, and the post-war building boom. Asbestos’ use and its dangers in the US slowly came under more scrutiny until it was largely regulated out of the market in the 1970s. A few asbestos-containing products are still sold in the country. Makeup and baby powder containing talc contaminated with asbestos may also be in your home.
How Can I Be Exposed to Asbestos?
The main threat of exposure comes from:
- Inhaling asbestos: Fibers are incredibly light and small. When airborne, they may be too small to see and can stay in the air for a long time. This is the most common type of exposure. Why fibers are in the air depends on the circumstances. Asbestos-containing products are generally safe when they’re intact. Problems arise because fibers are liberated when products are installed, repaired, removed, or replaced. Fibers can come loose if a product is cut, torn, or sanded. They deteriorate over time and can fall apart. Fibers can also enter the air if a building containing them is renovated, demolished, or burns before products are removed. Inhaled fibers can reach into the lungs and penetrate the outer lung lining and chest wall (known as thepleura)
- Swallowing asbestos: Asbestos fibers in the air can also be swallowed. This can happen when fibers enter the mouth and mix with saliva. They can come from the air around the person, or fibers may be coughed up from the lungs and swallowed
Exposure is highest on work sites where asbestos products were installed or repaired, and no precautions against exposure are taken. Workers often returned home with clothing covered with fibers, exposing family members. Exposure can also happen where these products exist and were used, and over time fibers come loose and enter the air space.
Can Asbestos Cause Cancer?
Researchers have used two types of studies to determine that asbestos increases the risk of developing several types of cancers. They track the health outcomes of those exposed to asbestos and how the fibers affect lab animals or living cells involved in lab experiments.
Research on people exposed to asbestos shows:
- Lung cancer: All types of asbestos fibers are linked to a greater risk of lung cancer, with the danger increasing as the exposure to fibers increases and if the person smokes
- Mesothelioma: This cancer type most often affects the pleura and the thin linings surrounding the abdomen (peritoneum). Mesothelioma is closely linked with all kinds of asbestos. This can come from working with asbestos-containing products, being a family member of such a person, as well as living near asbestos mines or factories where these products were made
- Other cancer types: Though the strength of the evidence connecting asbestos to developing these cancers varies, links have been found to cancers of the larynx (voice box), ovaries, pharynx (throat), colon, rectum, and stomach
The following organizations have found that asbestos is a carcinogen (a substance causing cancer or helping it grow):
- The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is part of the United Nation’s World Health Organization (WHO)
- The federal National Toxicology Program (NTP), a program of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
- The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Asbestos can also cause non-malignant conditions, including asbestosis (chronic difficulty breathing), pleural plaques (areas of hard, scar-like pleural tissue), pleural thickening, and pleural effusions (excessive fluid between the pleura and lungs). Someone experiencing these conditions may later develop lung cancer or pleural mesothelioma.
Call Us Today For A Free Consultation
Satterley & Kelley, PLLC attorneys are here to help if you or someone you love has asbestos-related cancer. To reach our Louisville office, call 855-385-9532. You may also complete our contact form for a free initial consultation.