Asbestos is a fiber made up of naturally occurring minerals. Sought after for its fire-resistant properties, asbestos was used extensively throughout the 20th century in a variety of products from insulation to roofing materials to flooring tiles.
A History of Asbestos Use In The United States
Concern about the safety of asbestos arose fairly early. In 1918, the United States government noted a high death rate among asbestos workers. Research conducted in 1930 revealed that one in four workers were developing asbestosis, a breathing disorder caused that limits the ability of the lungs to absorb oxygen. The first mesothelioma tumor was discovered in 1943. By 1949 it became widely accepted that exposure to asbestos was hazardous. But how much is too much?
One of the factors complicated the answer to this question is the vast span of time that elapsed between the knowledge that asbestos exposure was hazardous and regulation of products containing asbestos.
The United States did not begin regulating the use of asbestos until 1970 when it revised the Clean Air Act to identify asbestos fibers as a health hazard. This paved the way for more legislation in the 70’s. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration passed regulations that limited the amount of exposure for workers.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s various regulations were passed that banned asbestos in certain products and limited its use in others. It wasn’t until 1990 that the limited the permissible asbestos content of spray-on products to no more than 1 percent. The failure to completely ban the use of asbestos in products has led some people to believe that asbestos is not dangerous when exposure occurs in small quantities. Unfortunately this is simply not the case.
Even Small Amounts Of Asbestos Fibers Are Dangerous
Asbestos fibers are dangerous because they lodge in the lung, causing scarring and inflammation. There is no way for the body to expel these fibers. This scarring can eventually lead to the development of asbestosis, mesothelioma and other lung cancers. Individuals are often unaware that they have been exposed to asbestos. Because the fibers are small and invisible, many people do not know they have been exposed. It only takes a single exposure to put an individual at risk.
Options For People Diagnosed With Asbestos-Related Lung Conditions
Individuals who are diagnosed with mesothelioma or other asbestos-related lung conditions should consult with an asbestos attorney about their options. Even if they do not know how they were exposed, an attorney may be able to help. Attorneys who have practiced in this area since the 1970s have amassed an extensive collection of evidence of asbestos exposure sites in their region and may be able to help people recover compensation.