Janitors and Mesothelioma – Custodians and Asbestos Injury
Janitors and custodians in older buildings could encounter many asbestos products, exposing them to cancer-causing mineral fibers. If you or a loved one worked as a janitor and developed an asbestos-related disease, Satterley & Kelley may be able to help you get compensation for the harm you suffered.
What Do Janitors and Custodians Do?
They work to keep offices, hospitals, schools, hotels, retail stores, apartment buildings, and other places clean and in good condition. Custodians may maintain lawns, parking lots, and sidewalks. Some janitors monitor and perform minor maintenance of heating and cooling systems so they function correctly.
How are Custodians and Janitors Exposed to Asbestos?
When it was commonly used, asbestos was part of many products you’d find in buildings using janitors. This naturally occurring mineral fiber is strong, fire and heat-resistant. Until it was heavily regulated in the late 1970s, asbestos was in various construction materials, including drywall, electrical equipment, ceiling tiles, and floor tiles. It was used as insulation on steam pipes, ducts, and boilers.
If these materials were installed or replaced while a janitor was in the area, they probably inhaled asbestos fibers, especially if they were asked to clean up the work area. Over time, these products aged and deteriorated. If they were disturbed or removed without proper precautions, fibers would be released into the air.
Custodians may also perform minor repairs and maintenance. Asbestos-containing ceiling and floor tiles may need to be removed and thrown away. Holes in asbestos-containing sheetrock may need to be filled.
What are the Dangers of Asbestos?
Inhaled asbestos fibers may become trapped in the lungs and remain for decades. They can cause scarring and inflammation, which can lead to asbestosis (severe breathing difficulty), pleural mesothelioma (a cancer of the lining of the lungs and chest cavity), and lung cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Other types of asbestos-related mesotheliomas are peritoneal (impacting the membrane covering organs and the abdominal cavity) and pericardial (affecting the heart’s lining).
Asbestos is a known human carcinogen (it causes cancer), according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the US Environmental Protection Agency, and the US Department of Health and Human Services. The IARC states there is enough evidence to show asbestos causes mesothelioma.
Several factors impact how asbestos exposure affects someone, including:
- How much asbestos the person inhaled
- The duration of the exposure
- The fibers’ shape, size, and chemical makeup
- Whether the person smoked or had pre-existing lung disease
- Genetic factors which may make the person more susceptible to mesothelioma
It’s hard to predict who might develop mesothelioma. It can strike someone who had little exposure over a short time, and someone who breathed in asbestos over many years may not develop it.
How Dangerous is Mesothelioma?
Treatment may improve your symptoms and quality of life, but pleural mesothelioma is generally a fatal disease. The NCI states there are two methods to predict how long, on average, people with pleural mesothelioma live after diagnosis.
One study examined how long a group of 105 people with the condition survived after diagnosis. The median lifespan for those with the least disease lived for 29.9 months, while those most impacted survived for 1.8 months. Another study of 181 patients found the 1-year survival rate was 40% for those with “low-risk” characteristics, while 12% of patients with “high-risk” characteristics lived for a year after diagnosis.
A study of those treated for pericardial mesothelioma found, on average, they lived two months after diagnosis. In a 2013 article in the European Journal of Cancer reviewed the outcomes for 108 peritoneal mesothelioma patients. Nearly half (43.6%) lived seven or more years after treatment ended.
Call Us Today for A Free Consultation
If you or a loved one developed mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease after working as a janitor or custodian, Satterley & Kelley lawyers can answer your questions, tell you about your rights to compensation, and discuss what you must do to protect them. Call our Louisville office at 502-589-5600 or toll-free at 855-385-9532. You can also fill out our contact form to schedule a free initial consultation.