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Asbestos: An Invisible Killer

Asbestos is a fibrous mineral that has been used as insulation and a fire retardant in a wide variety of products. Asbestos can produce dust that, when inhaled, becomes deposited in the lungs. Asbestos in the lungs can cause or contribute to the development of illnesses, especially mesothelioma (a malignant form of cancer in the lining of the chest or abdominal cavities), asbestosis (a fibrous scarring of the lungs), and lung cancer.

Federal regulation of asbestos began in the 1970s. Due to health concerns, all new uses of asbestos in the United States were banned in July of 1989. That year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule, entitled “Asbestos: Manufacture, Importation, Processing, and Distribution in Commerce Prohibitions,” which eventually led to banning about 94 percent of the asbestos used in the U.S. (based on 1985 estimates). Many asbestos uses established before that date are still allowed, but now are strictly regulated by the government.

If you have an asbestos-related illness like mesothelioma or an asbestos contamination problem in your home or business, talk to an experienced, skilled asbestos attorney. Contact Rose Klein & Marias LLP in Southern California, to learn more about your potential legal solutions.

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is an abundant, easily-mined mineral found worldwide. Because of its fibrous nature, durability, and heat-resistant properties, it has been used as an additive to strengthen and protect consumer goods and construction materials for over a hundred years, although its use has declined drastically since the 1960s in the United States. Common products often containing asbestos include car brakes, insulation, floor and ceiling tile, linoleum, roofing material, cement piping, and heat-generating appliances.

Why be concerned about asbestos?

The problem with asbestos is that it consists of microscopic, sliver-like fibers that can become dangerously embedded in the lungs when airborne, causing disease and injury. Asbestos-related illnesses can take decades to manifest, far in time and place from the actual exposure, making causation hard to reconstruct.

Asbestos mixed with or suspended in other solid materials, in and of itself, is not especially harmful. The harm occurs when it is released into the air in its dust-like form. For example, linoleum containing asbestos is not usually dangerous if undisturbed. It becomes unhealthy when the linoleum is broken or cut, or starts to deteriorate, causing asbestos particles to become airborne and breathable.

Asbestos-related diseases: mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis

Mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis are the three main diseases caused by inhaling asbestos. It is also the suspected cause of other lung conditions and cancers. Mesothelioma is a malignant cancer of the chest cavity and abdominal lining with limited treatment options. The risk of lung cancer from asbestos exposure is increased drastically by smoking tobacco products. Asbestosis is a noncancerous scarring of the lungs formed by an acidic response to embedded fibers, causing stiff, restricted lung tissue.

Who is harmed by asbestos?

People most at risk of harm from asbestos exposure can be identified by following the path of mined asbestos. Typical victims of asbestos injury are: miners, workers in factories producing asbestos-containing products (such as construction materials and ships), workers in industries where equipment and material contain high levels of asbestos (such as car mechanics, construction workers and railroad employees), and tradespeople exposed to crushed or broken asbestos-containing materials that can produce dust (like construction workers, demolition crews and firefighters).

Asbestos exposure can happen in many different scenarios – at work, through pollution from industrial sites, by secondary exposure to fibers on other people, in buildings where fibers are disturbed, or to bystanders near asbestos releases.

Legal remedies

Asbestos lawsuits target many types of responsible parties, depending on the circumstances, including mining companies, manufacturers, distributors, retailers, wholesalers, employers, landlords, property owners, property sellers, marketers, construction companies, property managers, and insurance companies.

Most asbestos lawsuits are product liability cases where the plaintiff was injured by a defective or dangerous product. Product liability lawsuits are most commonly for negligence, strict liability, breach of warranty, or misrepresentation. In addition to injury lawsuits, another common asbestos suit is for compensation for real-estate devaluation from asbestos contamination, often including a claim to recover expensive cleanup costs.

In some instances, workers exposed to asbestos at work may have a claim for workers’ compensation. Not all states provide workers’ compensation for asbestos injuries, but an attorney in your area can determine whether those benefits may be available.

Have You Been Harmed by Asbestos?

If you have an asbestos-related disease such as mesothelioma, a history of working around asbestos or a real-estate asbestos problem, contact a knowledgeable asbestos lawyer in Southern California today. An attorney from Rose Klein & Marias LLP in Southern California, can discuss the available legal remedies and help you make the best decision for your situation.

DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.