Asbestos: A Deadly History

Asbestos was used for many years as a common material in the construction industry. Asbestos was a popular commercial product because it is strong, does not burn, resists corrosion, and insulates well. Thus, asbestos is present in millions of U.S. homes, schools, businesses, and even ships. But the presence of asbestos in so many buildings has a created an enormous public health problem because the product can cause deadly diseases and has sickened thousands of people.

Why is asbestos so dangerous? If inhaled, asbestos fibers can disrupt the normal functioning of the lungs. The fibers travel through the body, where they can become lodged for years, resulting in cancer or other serious illnesses. Three specific diseases – asbestosis, lung cancer, and “asbestos cancer” known as mesothelioma – have been linked to asbestos exposure. These diseases do not develop immediately after inhalation of asbestos fibers. Often it takes a decade or more for the diseases to appear.

While asbestos use is now limited in the United States , there are inherent health hazards to workers who were exposed to asbestos many years ago. Workers who are involved in current asbestos removal projects are also at risk, as are workers who are in buildings where asbestos dust is stirred up into the air.

The sad reality is that the asbestos-related illnesses that so many workers have developed — and died from — could have been avoided. Many of the companies that manufactured asbestos products knew about the health risks to workers as early as the 1920s — but they did not disclose these dangers to the workers or their families.

Now, lawyers and other legal groups are working to hold companies responsible for the harm their products have caused to so many people. If you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, contact the Louthian Law Firm today at Toll free at (803) 454-1200 or online for a free evaluation of your case. You may be entitled to money for your medical bills, lost wages and other damages.

Asbestos Background

Asbestos is a naturally occurring silicate mineral with long, thin fibrous crystals found in certain types of rock formations. When mined and processed, asbestos takes the form of very small fibers which are typically 1,200 times smaller than a strand of human hair. These individual fibers are then mixed with a material which binds them together so that they can be used in many different products.

Although there is a move underway to broaden the definition of asbestos to include taconite, or any other fiber which causes asbestosis, currently, there are six minerals defined as “asbestos.” They are chrysotile (white), amosite (brown), crocidolite (blue), tremolite, anthophyllite and actinolite.

In the United States , white asbestos has been the most commonly used type and accounts for approximately 95 percent of the mineral found in buildings in the United States . Asbestos is often present in the following materials:

  • Vinyl floor tiles, sheeting, adhesives;
  • Roofing tars, felts, siding, and shingles;
  • Siding, countertops, and pipes;
  • Fireproofing;
  • Gaskets;
  • Brake pads and shoes, and clutch plates;
  • Stage curtains and fire blankets;
  • Interior fire doors;
  • Fireproof clothing for firefighters;
  • Thermal pipe insulation.

Asbestos Use

The use of asbestos-containing products began in the early 1900s and peaked between the 1940s and the 1970s. Asbestos continued to be sold and used without warnings up until the 1980s. New uses for asbestos containing products were banned in 1989 by the EPA. Uses established before this date are still allowed.

When asbestos products are intact and are not friable — able to crumble — the health dangers are minimal. When renovations are undertaken and the asbestos fibers are disturbed, the airborne fibers become a health hazard. Exposure to asbestos fibers usually occurs in at-risk workplace environments. However, renovations in schools, homes and businesses are carefully regulated and must be monitored to ensure that neither workers nor patrons are exposed to the fibers.

Those at the highest risk for developing mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases include workers handling or installing insulation, roofers, electricians, and miners. Industrial and trade workers’ families may also be put in jeopardy through asbestos particles that cling to the workers’ clothing, shoes, skin and hair.

While the EPA proposed a ban on asbestos use in 1989 it was overturned by a federal Circuit Court of Appeals in 1991. The Bruce Vento Ban Asbestos and Prevent Mesothelioma Act of 2008 is the most current ban proposal. Asbestos remains in use as an acoustic insulator, and in thermal insulation, fire proofing, roofing, flooring and other materials.

Our South Carolina Asbestos Injury Lawyers Can Help

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, lung cancer or asbestosis you may be entitled to financial or worker’s compensation for past and future medical bills, lost wages, physical disability, and emotional pain and suffering. If you are considering an asbestos-related lawsuit, it is important to talk with an attorney with significant experience in South Carolina law. The  has been trying — and winning — lawsuits in South Carolina since 1959. We’re committed to providing excellent, personalized service and the best results for our clients. To speak with a mesothelioma attorney today, fill out our confidential online form, or call us at Toll free at (803) 454-1200.