Asbestos refers to a group of naturally occurring minerals in the environment;
asbestos fibers are heat and fire resistant, and can be separated into
strong, durable threads. Since asbestos fibers do not conduct electricity,
it has been used in a variety of industries in the United States since
the late 1800s, but it was used heavily during World War II.
Since World War II, asbestos has been used for insulation, roofing, sound
absorption, and fireproofing. In the construction industry, it’s
been used to strengthen cement. In shipbuilding, it’s been used
to insulate all kinds of things, such as hot water pipes, steam pipes,
The automotive industry used asbestos for clutch pads and brake shoes,
and it’s also been used in plastics, tiles, coatings, paints, and
even children’s crayons.
In the past 40 years, there has been a growing body of evidence about the
health hazards of asbestos. In the late 1970s, the U.S. Consumer Product
Safety Commission (CPSC) banned using asbestos in gas fireplaces because
the fibers were released into the environment.
In 1989, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned companies
from finding new uses for asbestos. However, the uses developed prior
to 1989 were not prohibited.
Since the health hazards associated with asbestos exposure have been confirmed,
the use of asbestos across all industries has significantly declined in
the U.S. In 1973, domestic consumption of asbestos was 803,000 metric
tons, but by 2005 it had dropped dramatically to about 2,400 metric tons.
Asbestos Exposure in the Workplace
Over the years, millions of workers have been exposed to asbestos in their
occupations and it’s led to many disorders of the lungs and gastrointestinal
tract. If asbestos is disturbed, it can send tiny asbestos fibers into
the air. When people inhale asbestos fibers, they can get trapped in their
lungs, where they can remain for years.
As these fibers accumulate over time, they can lead to scarring and inflammation,
which can impair breathing and lead to extremely hazardous health conditions,
such as lung cancer, according to the
National Cancer Institute (NIH).
The NIH reports that asbestos exposure increases the risk of mesothelioma,
a rare cancer that affects the thin membranes that line the abdomen and
chest. Additionally, the NIH reports that asbestos exposure is linked
to an elevated risk of:
- Gastrointestinal cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Throat cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Gallbladder cancer
The NIH says that everyone has been exposed to some asbestos throughout
their life, but most people do not become sick from minimal exposure.
Those who become ill from asbestos exposure are people who are exposed
to it regularly, and usually through a job where they come into direct
contact with it asbestos or through heavy environmental contact.
Since the 1940s, millions of workers in the U.S. have been exposed to asbestos,
many of whom include people who were exposed through asbestos mining and
manufacturing asbestos products, through the insulation and building trades,
automotive manufacturing, shipbuilding, and many other trades.
If you have been exposed to asbestos fibers through your work and are experiencing
shortness of breath, a persistent cough, blood in the fluid coughed up
from the lungs, chest pain, difficulty swallowing, or if you have been
diagnosed with lung cancer or mesothelioma, we urge you to contact our
firm to discuss filing a workers’ compensation claim, even if it’s
been years since the exposure.
To learn more about asbestos and
contact our New York workers’ compensation firm for a
free case evaluation.