Most people now know that asbestos is a dangerous substance, with strong links to an increased risk of serious diseases such as mesothelioma and lung cancer. Research suggests asbestos may also be linked to many other forms of cancer, such as colorectal, gastrointestinal, throat, esophagus, kidney and gallbladder, and to other diseases such as asbestosis and other nonmalignant diseases of the lungs. Some estimates indicate that between 12 and 15 thousand Americans die every year as the result of their previous exposure to asbestos. Even though the impact of asbestos exposure may not materialize for many years, the incredibly high number of cases of specific types of cancer among workers who were exposed regularly to asbestos would suggest that people should have been aware of the risks presented by the substance. The idea that people in industries that used asbestos were unaware of the risks becomes even more doubtful when one considers the history of asbestos use.
The history of asbestos is a very long one, dating back to prehistoric times. Thousands of years ago, Egyptians used asbestos in the cloth used to wrap mummies, and it has been found in pottery thousands of years ago as well. The history of diseases being associated with asbestos can also be tracked to ancient times, as both the Greeks and the Romans documented the existence of lung diseases among the people who worked with asbestos.
Given the long history of the use of asbestos, as well as the long documented history of its risks, it seems unlikely that the companies using asbestos could have been unaware of the fact that asbestos is an extremely dangerous substance. As it turns out, a lot of evidence suggests that the industries that used asbestos did have knowledge about the dangers associated with asbestos by the 1930’s or earlier, and made efforts to hide the information. In fact, in 1918, a report came out that insurance companies denied insurance to individuals who worked with asbestos. In 1936 asbestos companies agreed to fund research into the risks associated with exposure to asbestos, but agreed to do so only on the condition that they controlled the information that was released from the study. Studies indicating the connection between asbestos and many serious diseases continued to be published, but asbestos companies continued to grow, and no significant steps were taken to limit the risks to workers, even in cases where records indicate companies were very aware of the risks they were subjecting their employees to.
Despite the overwhelming amount of evidence that asbestos is dangerous, the industry grew rapidly into the 20th century. The cost effectiveness of asbestos as a construction material was too attractive to cease using the product. Asbestos was used in roofing and flooring, cement, thermal installation in domestic and commercial buildings, brake pads, fire-retardant coatings, insulation for electric wiring and more. Despite the known dangers, asbestos consumption did not reach its peak in the United States until 1973, many decades after knowledge of the serious dangers it caused to workers.
Finally in the 1970’s, the United States issued its first legislation designed to limit people’s exposure to asbestos. Even today, the United States has not completely banned the use of asbestos, although its use has declined dramatically as the general population became increasingly aware of the risks and hazards associated with asbestos exposure.
Several books have been published detailing the history of the conspiracy to hide the risks that working with asbestos presents to workers. It is now fairly clear that the industries that used and profited from asbestos were in a position where they could have acted far earlier in order to limit their workers’ exposure to this highly hazardous substance. The failure to acknowledge the risks of working with asbestos has caused an incredible loss of life.
If you are suffering from mesothelioma, you should contact an experienced attorney to discuss your legal options. By finding an advocate to represent you in your claim, you can start the process of pursuing compensation to help you cover the medical expenses, lost wages and other costs associated with your mesothelioma.
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At Stern Law, PLLC, our compassionate and caring attorneys are ready to work with you in order to find the best strategy for seeking the compensation and support that you and your family need. Contact Stern Law, PLLC today at (844) 808-7529 for a free consultation with an experienced attorney.