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Eagan Minnesota Mesothelioma and Asbestos Law Blog

US Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh hearing asbestos exposure case

The newest of the nine U.S. Supreme Court Justices, Brett Kavanaugh, was set to hear his first cases on the high court this week. One of the cases involves an asbestos exposure situation. It is a complicated products liability case that was filed by two Navy widows. Asbestos-related illnesses and injuries are problematic in Minnesota and throughout the nation; many of those adversely affected are people who used to work in shipyards.  

In the case that was presented to the court earlier this week, two Navy widows filed a lawsuit against a company that manufactured equipment in the naval yard where their now deceased husbands once worked. The women say their spouses contracted cancer due to asbestos exposure while working with that equipment. The defendant in the case has acknowledged that it is indeed the manufacturer of the equipment in question.  

Is your breathing disorder related to work and asbestosis?

If you have worked in a Minnesota mine, mill or spray insulation industry, you are at risk for asbestos exposure. One particular illness, asbestosis, is a breathing disorder that often causes devastating life consequences and, in worst cases, even death. Those afflicted with this or other asbestos-related illnesses often need daily living assistance and legal support.  

Asbestos is comprised of microscopic fibers that are dangerous to human health if ingested or inhaled. Asbestosis occurs when those fibers reach the alveoli, thus causing injury to the lungs. Although the body is equipped with cells that react to alveoli infection by attempting to digest asbestos fibers, these fibers are particularly resistant to breakdown as opposed to other chemicals or dust particles that can be broken down and eliminated through the body's defense mechanisms. As the body continues to unsuccessfully attempt to break down asbestos fibers, alveoli become inflamed and scarred.  

Occupational asbestos exposure subject of recently filed lawsuit

Two people in another state used to work together at the same company. It is not clear how long they were employed at the company. What is clear, however, is that they were both fired and have joined efforts to file a lawsuit against their former employer, claiming that their knowledge of an occupational asbestos exposure situation is the reason they were let go. Minnesota workers worried about similar issues may want to follow this case.

The two former employees had worked for a property management company. The business manages an apartment complex that comprises several buildings. While the current number of occupants is not known, there are indeed people living in the apartments that the former workers say might still contain asbestos exposure risks.

Will new rule lead to more asbestos exposure in the US?

Between 12,000 and nearly 40,000 people in the United States die annually from diseases related to asbestos. This leaves many people wondering why materials containing the product are not altogether banned. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a new rule that not only has raised people's fears but has caused some to worry whether the rule could possibly lead to more asbestos exposure for workers and residents in Minnesota and across the country.

The EPA has proposed a significant new use rule requiring anyone who wishes to import or manufacture goods containing asbestos to first seek the agency's approval. Those speaking on behalf of the EPA say this rule would help them better regulate the potentially dangerous microscopic fibrous materials. Others say that such a rule would only enable more asbestos to be used in the United States, thereby placing even more people at risk for injury.

Asbestos exposure: No amount is safe

In Minnesota and elsewhere, a diagnosis of incurable cancer is devastating. Thousands of patients have illnesses that were caused by asbestos exposure. Especially for those who used to work or are currently employed in certain industries, such as construction, railroad work, shipyards or textile factories, the risks for asbestos-related injuries are high.

Mesothelioma and asbestosis are two of the most frequently reported types of asbestos illnesses. Both of these diseases primarily affect the lungs but can extend to other parts of the body as well. Symptoms are often delayed, which means a person can be sick long before a doctor diagnoses his or her condition.

More Information About The 3M Settlement, What They Knew

In late February, Minnesota manufacturing giant 3M Co. reached an $850 million settlement with the Minnesota Attorney General’s office over dumping of toxic perfluorochemicals, PFCs, that leached into the groundwater of Washington County. The settlement ends a $5 billion lawsuit between 3M and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Attorney General’s office.

3M manufactured these chemicals for use in their popular Scotchguard stain repellant as well as non-stick cookware and fire extinguishers. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, PFCs do not break down easily and can accumulate in people’s bodies. In large quantities these chemicals can disrupt the immune system and can cause birth defects, cancer and thyroid hormone disruption.

Asbestos Use May Be Back

The unimaginable may be soon be happening. Asbestos may soon be allowed back into manufacturing.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency appears to be opening the door for asbestos to be used for new uses in manufacturing. According to an early August article in Newsweek, the EPA made an announcement on June first to allow asbestos to be reintroduced under their “Significant New Use Rule” (SNUR).

Mesothelioma one of many Minnesota asbestos-related issues

In 1981, the first Minnesota asbestos litigation case was heard. Sadly, such cases have been on the rise since then, as many families have been devastated by mesothelioma, asbestosis and other asbestos-related health problems. These often occur due to asbestos exposure in the workplace.

It can take years for symptoms of mesothelioma to surface. Victims often develop lingering coughs, have trouble breathing or experience chest discomfort without knowing what is causing their conditions. Following a doctor's diagnosis of an asbestos-related illness, there are often two main priorities: obtaining palliative care (since there is no cure for such diseases) and seeking justice for damages caused by employer negligence. 

Is former steelworker's cancer related to asbestos exposure?

Many retired Minnesota factory workers can related to a man in another state who recently joined many of his former co-workers at a meeting where a discussion was had about adverse health issues the former employees believe may be connected to their steel factory work. One woman who attended the meeting with her husband said she believes his skin cancer may have been caused by asbestos exposure. The man was not the only one there suffering from a disease, and most, if not all, attended the meeting because they think they contracted their illnesses on the job.  

The steel mill where the former workers were employed played a significant role in developing the atomic bomb during the World War II era. Analysts who study health-related consequences of factory work say the experts have known for a long time that asbestos is a highly dangerous material that can cause incurable diseases, such as lung cancer and other illnesses. Thousands of people who worked at this particular steel factory have already filed legal claims regarding possible damages they suffered due to radioactive material exposure as well.  

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