In the United States, a person’s age likely colors one’s knowledge and opinion of asbestos. Those of us who are a little bit older have a long history with the issues surrounding the mineral. There have been numerous lawsuits, bankruptcies of major American corporations, and resulting government regulation. And, unfortunately, we have seen the death and devastating illness that can result from asbestos exposure.
For younger Americans, asbestos is probably a rare topic of conversation. That is understandable because it is far less common in the news than it once was. That can lead many people to believe that the issues of asbestos, mesothelioma, and other related illnesses have been fully addressed. That simply is not true. In this article, we will discuss where asbestos still can be found in the United States and the effects it can have on one’s health.
The dangers of asbestos
As a starting point, it should be noted that asbestos, in its natural state, is simply a mineral that is obtained by mining. Long ago, it became popular in industry for a number of reasons. First, there is an abundance of the mineral and it is relatively cheap. Second, it has properties that make it extremely useful for a variety of purposes. For example, it can be processed to create strong, flexible fibers. Asbestos is also resistant to chemicals and heat. Thus, it was perfect for use in steam pipes, furnaces, insulation, fire fighting equipment, and many products used in ships, home construction, commercial construction, and many other industries.
Unfortunately, it turned out that asbestos is a carcinogen. It is especially dangerous when its fibers become airborne and are inhaled. This can happen in a lot of ways. Asbestos that is friable can crumble, break into small fragments, or be crushed into a powder. The small fibers can then be inhaled, allowing them to lodge in the lungs and cause disease. Sometimes the fibers become airborne from actions like sawing and sanding, while some asbestos products can simply be crushed into a powder with the hands.
Where is asbestos used today?
Due to the dangers involved, you might think that asbestos has been banned. That is true in some countries, but not in the United States. While the mining of asbestos has ceased in the United States, it continues to be imported. According to a story aired on PBS, more than 6,000 tons of asbestos have been imported into the United States since 2011.
According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), imported asbestos continues to be used in the following products:
- Roofing materials
- Vinyl tile
- Corrugated sheeting
- Automobile clutches
- Brake pads
- Cement pipe (imported)
Moreover, according to the PBS story mentioned above, asbestos is present in 30 million houses and can also be found in a number of consumer products, including makeup and toys. Asbestos-containing products have also been used in many commercial buildings.
Mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases can take years, and even decades, to appear. Thus, people who have been exposed to asbestos in the past may not develop symptoms for many years. At this point, it is estimated that more than 3000 people are dying every year as a result of asbestos-related illness. Due to the length of time it can take for the illness to develop, it is likely that problems will endure long into the future.
Call with Questions
If you or a loved one has developed mesothelioma or other asbestos-related illness, you will likely have many questions about your rights. The experienced mesothelioma lawyers at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield have helped asbestos victims all across the state of Oregon recover the damages they deserve. We take pride in helping to hold wrongdoers accountable for their actions because we believe it is the only way to keep society safe for everyone. Please call us for a free consultation and we will be happy to answer all of your questions.