Exposure to asbestos has been linked to a deadly form of cancer known as mesothelioma. When asbestos fibers are inhaled or otherwise ingested, they can become lodged in the lining of the lungs, heart or abdomen, where they may lead to a mesothelioma diagnosis. Although it can take up to 50 years after asbestos exposure to develop mesothelioma, patients may only live for a few short years after learning that they have the disease.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that has been used as insulation or heat-resistant coating in many commercial and industrial products, including building insulation, shipbuilding, pipes and boilers, automotive parts and other products. Because of the link between asbestos and mesothelioma, the federal government has placed restrictions on how asbestos can be used. However, asbestos is still legal, and can still be commonly found in these and other products.
Because the risk of mesothelioma increases the longer a person is exposed to asbestos, workers who regularly come into contact with asbestos-congaing products are at the highest risk of developing symptoms of the disease. However, cases have also been reported among the family members of asbestos workers, individuals who lived around asbestos mines and even those who have no known history of asbestos exposure.
Exposure to asbestos has also been linked to a number of other serious diseases, including lung cancer and asbestosis, a non-cancerous disease that causes permanent damage to the lung tissue.
Many workers who were exposed to asbestos in the workplace have filed mesothelioma lawsuits against their employers and the companies who manufactured these asbestos-containing products. These lawsuits have alleged that workers were not given proper safety equipment or instructions about how to work with products containing asbestos that could have prevented them from developing mesothelioma.