Asbestos - Mesothelioma Lawyers
For over 35 years, the Baltimore Asbestos Attorneys at the Law Offices of Peter G. Angelos has represented thousands of people who have been injured or died from breathing in asbestos fibers. We were among the first in the nation to undertake this litigation and our resulting expertise is unparalleled.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is the name for a group of naturally occurring fibrous silicate minerals that have excellent heat-resistant properties and high tensile strength. Because of its unusual physical and chemical properties, asbestos has been used in products dating back almost 4,500 years.
During the 20th century, asbestos was heavily used in products such as thermal insulation, cements, textiles, floor tiles, wallboard, gaskets, ropes, fireproof clothing, brakes and other products.
The inhalation of asbestos fiber has been associated with many types of cancer, including mesothelioma, lung cancer, colon cancer, esophageal cancer, other cancers associated with exposure to asbestos, as well as chronic and deadly fibrotic lung diseases. Because asbestos fibers are invisible, tasteless, odorless, and indestructible, many people have been, and continue to be, unknowingly exposed to this material with devastating results. Since it can take years after exposure for effects to show, this condition continues to affect new individuals and their families every year. If you suspect you have been exposed to asbestos, talk to us. We know how to protect your rights as well as the rights of your loved ones. To learn more about asbestos, click here.
Types of Asbestos
The mineral group known as asbestos is comprised of two varieties: serpentine and amphibole.
More than 90% of the asbestos used in commercial products is of the serpentine variety known as chrysotile. Known for its snake-like, curly appearance, this soft, flexible serpentine type of asbestos can be mixed and woven into products that require high-tensile strength and flexibility. Chrysotile asbestos has been primarily mined in Canada and the Soviet Union but, to a lesser degree, chrysotile has also been mined in the United States .
A second form of commercial asbestos, the amphiboles, have a needle-like shape and harder composition. These were used less frequently than chrysotile, but present a great threat of harm to individuals. Tremolite, another type of amphibole, is often found as a contaminant of chrysotile, increasing the danger of that type of asbestos. Amosite was often blended with chrysotile in thermal insulation products such as asbestos. While amosite is mined primarily in South Africa, crocidolite is mined in both Australia and South Africa.
Most individuals who have been injured or died from asbestos-related diseases were exposed when asbestos-containing products were installed or replaced in commercial and industrial buildings. Tradesman often had to saw, cut, and pound the products, a process that emitted billions of microscopic asbestos fibers into the atmosphere. As a result, anyone in the vicinity of the work was at risk for breathing the fibers and developing disease. Even many wives who shook out and washed the dust-laden clothes of their husbands have developed asbestos disease.
Asbestos Related Diseases
While asbestos causes non-malignant and malignant diseases, both can be deadly.
Asbestosis and other non-malignant asbestos—related lung disease occur when the body's immune system reacts to inhaled asbestos fibers. This repeated inhalation can cause scarring in the lung tissue, the parenchyma, and the lining of the lungs called the pleura. This scarring impairs the lungs' ability to transfer gases such as oxygen and carbon dioxide. The result is lung function impairment and shortness of breath. In the latter stages of this generally progressive disease, a person can suffocate. Because the body does not have the ability to dispose of all of the asbestos deposited in the lungs, scarring can continue to occur years after active exposure has occurred. Unfortunately, asbestosis usually develops slowly and often can't be diagnosed until 15 to 30 years after a person's first exposure.
The most serious disease caused by asbestos is mesothelioma , a cancer of the lining of the lungs, known as pleural mesothelioma, and of the lining of the abdomen, known as peritoneal mesothelioma. This disease, almost exclusively caused by asbestos, usually causes death within 18 to 36 months of the time of diagnosis.
More about Mesothelioma
In addition to mesothelioma, asbestos can also cause cancer in the lungs, stomach, colon, throat, and other organs of the body. Asbestos exposure is particularly dangerous in people who have smoked tobacco or continue to smoke. How dangerous? A person who smokes and who has been inhaled asbestos is at least 50 times more likely to develop lung cancer than someone without these specific risk factors.
Asbestos Companies' Knowledge of Dangers
Information concerning the health hazards of asbestos began appearing in medical and scientific literature in the early 1900s. By the late 1930s, respected medical journals already contained articles describing how asbestos could cause asbestosis and cancer, indicating that the disease took 15 years or more to develop (latency period); that the diseases were often progressive; and that asbestos disease could be fatal. In addition to the growing body of medical literature about the dangers of asbestos published throughout the early to mid-twentieth century, many asbestos companies had their own corporate memos, notes, letters, and scientific articles explaining the health dangers of asbestos exposure.
Despite this large body of knowledge, asbestos companies failed to adequately warn those who would come into contact with their products about the health hazards of such exposure. This failure to adequately warn and protect those who could be exposed or come into contact with the asbestos emitted when the asbestos products were installed and/or removed is the basis for the negligence and/or strict liability lawsuits against these companies.