Types of Asbestos
“Asbestos” is actually a blanket term used to refer to six unique minerals belonging to the amphibole and serpentine families. All forms of asbestos are known carcinogens, meaning that they can all lead to the development of cancer. The six types of asbestos are:
Actinolite asbestos is not as flexible as other forms of asbestos, but it is harsh in texture and easily inhaled. This type of asbestos is mostly used for fireproofing and insulation.
Most amosite asbestos comes from Africa, and this type of asbestos is often referred to as brown asbestos. Common uses for amosite asbestos include thermal insulation and ceiling tiles.
Anthophyllite asbestos is not used as frequently as some of the other types of asbestos, but may be found in roofing materials, plumbing materials, and cement tiles.
Chrysotile asbestos is the most common form of this mineral, accounting for up to 95 of all asbestos used throughout the world. Chrysotile asbestos is used in a wide range of applications and products, including roofing, walls, flooring, ceilings, automobile brake linings, boilers, pipe insulation, and gaskets.
Crocidolite asbestos is sometimes called blue asbestos, and it can be found in Australia, South Africa, and Bolivia. Crocidolite asbestos is used the least of all types of asbestos, but it is also widely acknowledged to be the most dangerous form of the mineral.
Tremolite asbestos can be found in a number of colors, such as gray, green, and white. This type of asbestos may be used in paints, roofing materials, sealants, and talc powders.
Exposure to Asbestos
Most people diagnosed with mesothelioma were occupationally exposed to asbestos, which means that they came into contact with the mineral on the job. Still, secondary exposure to asbestos is also known to lead to mesothelioma and other asbestos diseases: a number of people with mesothelioma were exposed to asbestos when workers inadvertently carried the mineral home on their clothing, on their bodies, or in their hair. Because symptoms of mesothelioma may not present for up to 50 years after a person is exposed to asbestos, many patients are not even aware of how or when they were exposed.
As this disease’s name implies, asbestosis results directly from exposure to asbestos. Asbestosis is a lung condition that arises when asbestos fibers are inhaled, causing irritation and scarification around the lungs. This leads to stiffening of the lungs, restricting air flow and causing a raspy cough. Other asbestosis symptoms include difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue, loss of appetite, dry raspy cough, pain or tightness in the chest, and crackling sounds when breathing. There is no cure for asbestosis, but there are a number of therapies and medications that have proven to aid in symptom reduction and enhancing patient comfort.
Asbestosis – like mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other diseases associated with asbestos exposure – is best treated when diagnosed at an early stage. While there is no cure for asbestosis, treatments such as oxygen therapy or breathing therapy can help reduce asbestosis symptoms and enhance patient comfort. It is crucial that asbestosis patients are not smokers, as their lungs’ ability to function is already compromised.
Some asbestosis patients do not display symptoms until decades after asbestos exposure, so it can be difficult to trace the roots of a person’s exposure. Fortunately for our clients, the asbestos disease attorneys at Arentz Law Group, P.C. have the experience and resources victims need to determine the source of their asbestos exposure and hold the party or parties responsible for this exposure fully accountable under the law.
Asbestos Lung Cancer
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), lung cancer is “the greatest health risk for American asbestos workers”, and lung cancer is the most frequently diagnosed asbestos-related disease in the United States. Some experts estimate that up to 10,000 Americans die each year as a result of asbestos lung cancer. The risk of asbestos lung cancer increases greatly for smokers, as smoking weakens the lungs and leaves them vulnerable to diseases and infections.
Forms of cancer that have been linked to asbestos exposure include:
Asbestos and Mesothelioma
While there is no longer any doubt that asbestos exposure is the cause of mesothelioma, experts are still unsure exactly how asbestos exposure can lead to the development of this vicious cancer. There are a number of theories about the correlation between asbestos and mesothelioma:
The body produces molecules known as free radicals as a reaction to asbestos exposure. It is believed that these free radicals can cause DNA damage which may result in the cell mutations responsible for the development of cancer.
The structures in our cells that are responsible for cell division may be disrupted by exposure to asbestos, and these changes could lead to the development of rapidly dividing mesothelioma cells.
The body produces oncoproteins as a reaction to exposure to asbestos. These oncoproteins spur the abnormally fast rate of cell division that leads to cancer.
Inflammation and irritation of the mesothelial cells, which line the organs, can be caused as a reaction to asbestos exposure. This causes scar tissue to develop and may also cause cellular damage which marks the development of cancer.
What to do after Asbestos Exposure
If you become aware that you are or have been exposed to asbestos, the first thing you need to do is to stop the exposure. There is no way to undo asbestos damage to your lungs or other organs, but you can be pro-active by letting your doctor know of your exposure so that he or she may watch for any signs or symptoms of asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma, lung cancer, or asbestosis.
Jobs Where Asbestos Exposure is a Risk
Most people come into contact with asbestos through occupational exposure. That is, they are exposed to asbestos on the job. Certain industries, such as asbestos mining, processing, and manufacturing carry an obviously high risk of asbestos exposure, but there are many other job sites and types that pose a risk of exposure to this toxic and deadly mineral.
Occupations where asbestos exposure is likely:
Chemical plant workers
Commercial and residential construction
Navy and Armed Services veterans
Oil refinery workers
Power plant workers
Sheet metal workers
Tragically, many of our veterans are or were exposed to asbestos at work. This is especially true for Navy veterans, as many parts of our Navy’s ships contain asbestos that may break loose and become inhaled or ingested.
What Products can Asbestos be Found in?
Asbestos has been heavily used in a wide range of applications throughout history because it is cheap, plentiful, durable, and heat-resistant. Though the link between asbestos and certain illnesses has long been acknowledged (historians have found references to asbestos diseases as far back as Ancient Egypt) it wasn’t until the 1970s that the health threats posed by asbestos exposure were fully accepted by the general public. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned most asbestos products in 1989, but the ruling was overturned after only two years. Now, products made in the United States can contain asbestos only if the mineral accounts for less than 1 percent of the product’s entire makeup.
Products that may contain asbestos include:
Auto brake linings
Auto brake pads
Auto disc brakes
Valves and valve rings
Flooring, including vinyl flooring and tiles
Covers for ironing boards
Roofing materials including shingles
This is not an exhaustive list of all products which may contain asbestos.
If you Suspect Asbestos in your Home
There is no safe level of asbestos exposure. If you find or suspect that asbestos is present in your home, do not touch it, as handling asbestos can expose you to serious health threats. Additionally, the federal government as well as state and local governments have all established strict laws regulating how we may handle and dispose of asbestos or products containing asbestos. The best thing to do if you believe there is asbestos in your home is to contact an expert in the detection, removal, and abatement of asbestos.
Asbestos Removal and Abatement
Asbestos removal and abatement specialists are contractors have the extensive training and equipment needed to safely remove asbestos from homes and other sites where the deadly mineral may be present. If your home was built before the 1980s, there is a high likelihood that your home contains asbestos.
Up to 3,000 Americans are diagnosed with mesothelioma ever year, and most don’t survive more than 18 months after diagnosis. Exposure to asbestos can also cause other potentially fatal diseases, such as asbestosis and a number of cancers. If you believe there may be asbestos in your home, school, or workplace, you should contact a specialist who can safely remove it.
Criteria you should look for when hiring an expert to detect or remove asbestos
Experience: The more experience a contractor has with asbestos, the better.
References: When researching a contractor, try to get a number of professional references.
License: Request a copy of the contractor’s license proving that the person is a certified asbestos abatement specialist. Be sure to keep a copy for your records.
Contract: A reputable asbestos contractor will give you a contract which describes in detail the plan for removing asbestos from your property. This contract should refer to specific areas of the home where asbestos has been identified, such as roofing materials or insulation.
In some cases, an asbestos contractor may be able to neutralize the threat of asbestos in a building rather than removing the asbestos. This can be done by containing or encapsulating the asbestos so that fibers cannot become airborne.
Our Asbestos Disease Attorneys
If you or someone you love is suffering from a disease linked to asbestos exposure, you have the right to pursue significant compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, and other damages in an asbestos lawsuit. Asbestos disease attorneys at Arentz Law Group, P.C. are ready to stand by you and your family. Contact us today to learn more about your rights in a free and confidential legal consultation.
Asbestos exposure is the only known cause of mesothelioma, a very rare form of cancer for which there is no cure. Asbestos is a mineral that occurs naturally all over the world, and has been prized throughout history for its extreme durability and ability to withstand very high temperatures. Through the years, asbestos has been heavily used in construction materials, plumbing materials, insulation, automobile parts, and a range of additional applications.
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