Mesothelioma is a rare cancer of the lining around the lungs, heart and chest, which is almost exclusively caused by exposure to asbestos. Each year in the United States some 3,000 people will receive a diagnosis of mesothelioma. Asbestos is a group of microscopic, naturally occurring mineral fibers which can be inhaled or swallowed. In addition to mesothelioma, asbestos exposure can result in lung cancer, asbestosis, esophageal cancer, stomach cancer, colon cancer, rectum cancer and larynx cancer. In many cases, symptoms of asbestos exposure may not occur for years, or even decades after exposure.
Products Containing Asbestos
Some people develop mesothelioma from secondary exposure to asbestos when workers who routinely come into contact with asbestos bring the fibers home on their clothing or their skin. Others who develop the disease are workers in industries which exposes them to asbestos on a regular basis. Asbestos is used in many products because it is fire resistant, a conductor of heat and electricity, is resistant to chemicals and is virtually indestructible. Used since the early 1900’s, asbestos is still widely used today, although some uses of asbestos have been banned. Some of the products which contain asbestos include the following:
- Agricultural filler;
- Metal mesh blankets;
- Glassblower mitts;
- Potting mixtures;
- Cement pipes;
- Heating ducts;
- Roofing felt and shingles;
- Electrical wiring insulation;
- Fireproofing materials;
- Cooling towers;
- Sheetrock spackle;
- Ceiling tiles;
- Masonry fill, and
- Some types of paint.
Professions Most Likely to Come into Contact with Asbestos
There are certain professions which are more likely to come into contact with asbestos, including auto mechanics, carpenters, bricklayers, drywall installers, shipyard workers, textile mill workers, telephone linemen, railroad employees, longshoremen, merchant marines, sailors, U.S. Navy personnel, roofers, painters, steamfitters, plumbers, cement workers, masonry workers, HVAC mechanics, steel and iron workers, aerospace mechanics and aircraft production workers.
The companies which use asbestos in their products were aware—probably decades ago—that asbestos was harmful to workers who came into contact with asbestos, yet continued to manufacture these products with no warnings.
Industries in Alabama That Exposed Individuals to Asbestos
There are a number of industries in the state of Alabama where asbestos exposure commonly occurred, including the Kimberly-Clark pulp and paper mill plants, Cement Asbestos Company plants, six steel and iron mills, eight power generation plants, four oil refineries and two marine construction sites. At least eighty community water systems in the state also used asbestos mixed with cement to manufacture the water pipes which bring drinking water into homes and schools.
Those who oversee the water networks don’t believe the pipes are a problem; many were last tested in 1994, others have never been tested. It is generally believed that so long as there is water in the pipes, there is no danger to those drinking the water, and the asbestos only becomes a problem when the pipes dry up. In the city of Huntsville, specifically, a number of jobsites have been identified as having materials containing asbestos, such as the Boeing Aircraft Plant and approximately 27 additional companies. The closest mesothelioma cancer center to Huntsville is the University of Alabama Birmingham Comprehensive Cancer Center
Common Symptoms of Mesothelioma
If you have been exposed to asbestos, you may wonder about the typical symptoms of mesothelioma. Mesothelioma can be difficult to diagnose, and symptoms do not typically present themselves until the disease is in its later stages. Early signs of mesothelioma—fatigue, cough, muscle weakness, fever and night sweats—are often mistaken for more common illnesses, therefore may go undiagnosed. When mesothelioma is more advanced, the following symptoms may occur:
- Coughing up blood;
- Difficulty swallowing;
- Difficulty breathing;
- Pleural effusion;
- Chest pain;
- Weight loss;
- Obstruction of the bowel, and
- Blood clotting disorder.
Mesothelioma can be cancerous or noncancerous. If the tumor found on the mesothelium is cancerous, it is known as malignant mesothelioma, if it is noncancerous it is benign mesothelioma. Mesothelioma has an extremely high mortality rate because it is generally not discovered until it is in the latter stages and has spread throughout the body. Resection, radiation and chemotherapy are the usual treatments for mesothelioma patients.
How We Can Help
If you or a loved one are suffering from mesothelioma or another cancer caused by asbestos exposure, our Huntsville, Alabama personal injury attorneys want to fight for your rights. The state of Alabama has put some limitations on the discovery rule as it applies to mesothelioma and other diseases associated with asbestos. Alabama patients exposed to asbestos prior to 1980 have a year after their diagnosis of mesothelioma to file a claim.
Our highly experienced attorneys will make sure all mesothelioma deadlines are met and that your future is protected to the greatest extent possible. The Martinson & Beason attorneys have a wide range of accolades to their credit, including more than fifty five-star Google reviews. If it is important that you choose the best attorney for your situation, call the Martinson& Beason, P.C. attorneys today for a free consultation. We have been helping people just like you since 1937.