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Asbestos and Mesothelioma
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral fiber that was used widely for fireproofing and insulation mainly until the 1970s. Despite being largely phased out, countless numbers of Americans continue to suffer the serious, and often deadly, health effects of asbestos exposure. When breathed in, asbestos can cause asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.
In the U.S. alone, 2,500 to 4,000 patients are diagnosed with mesothelioma every year. There is still not a lot of information regarding mesothelioma, and there is a mistaken belief that it is a problem that will just go away since asbestos use has been largely reduced. There is a latency period of 15 to 50 years from asbestos exposure to developing mesothelioma, so mesothelioma cases will continue being diagnosed.
Some experts have predicted the number of mesothelioma cases in the U.S. will increase for another couple decades. Many occupational settings, as well as public buildings, schools, homes and offices continue to present asbestos hazards even today. As of December 2000, according to a RAND Institute study, more than 600,000 asbestos related lawsuits had been filed in the U.S. For the last several years, Congress has been trying to address the situation with legislation to create an asbestos trust fund, but so far, political sides have been unable to agree upon terms.
Asbestos Containing Materials/Products
Asbestos containing materials/products were widespread before experts realized the naturally occurring mineral fiber was carcinogenic. By the time the Environmental Protection Agency and the Consumer Product Safety Commission banned several asbestos containing materials/products, a high number of workers, communities and families had already been exposed to the dangerous fibers.
Most products today will not have asbestos containing materials, and if any asbestos containing materials/products are made it must be clearly labeled. Even though the majority of asbestos containing materials/products were phased out, if made before the 1970s they will contain asbestos. Of the greatest risks asbestos containing materials/products still occupying public buildings, homes, offices, schools, churches and other places are many types of building products and insulation materials.
Asbestos containing materials/products can include pipe and furnace insulation materials, asbestos and cement shingles, siding and roofing, millboard, resilient floor tiles, backing on vinyl sheet flooring and floor tile adhesives, soundproofing or decorative material, patching and joint compound, automotive brake pads and linings, clutch facings and gaskets, as well as a number of other sources. Asbestos is linked to mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis. More than 300,000 asbestos-related claims are now pending, according to a RAND Institute study, because of allegations that asbestos exposure resulted in death and illness.
For decades, people were being subjected to asbestos exposure without realizing the impact it would have on their lives. Asbestos exposure is linked to deadly diseases including mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis. As a result, asbestos related litigation has been one of the largest challenges to address. Congress has tried to address asbestos exposure lawsuits for the last several years, but has been unable to reach compromise between opposing sides.
Many have criticized asbestos exposure lawsuits, questioning how people continue to suffer asbestos-related illnesses when asbestos use was largely phased out in the 1970s, but there is a long latency period between asbestos exposure and disease onset in many cases. In addition, the use of asbestos was widespread, affecting a high number of workers and their families unknowingly when they brought the asbestos dust home. Entire communities suffered asbestos exposure from mining the naturally occurring mineral fiber.
Mesothelioma is a form of lung cancer almost always caused by asbestos exposure. Within a year or so of becoming diagnosed, a patient can die from the incurable disease. The 15 to 50 year latency period from asbestos exposure to onset has meant the number of people that will continue being diagnosed with the illness is expected to rise over the next couple decades.
Types of Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is an incurable, rare form of cancer that can be extremely painful. The only known cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure. There are several major types of mesothelioma in the malignant form, including epithelial, sarcomatoid and mixed. Of the three malignant types of mesothelioma, epithelial is the most common.
Because a mesothelioma diagnosis can be so grim, it is important to identify the types of mesothelioma present in order to try to treat it as quickly as possible. Diagnoses, however, can be extremely difficult since different symptoms of different types of mesothelioma are often mistaken for less serious ailments. For people at-risk for developing different types of mesothelioma, it is important to notify their doctors of their asbestos exposure so that he/she is able to identify any possible signs.
It can take between 15 and 50 years before different types of mesothelioma develop from the asbestos exposure, so if there is any asbestos history, possible symptoms should not be overlooked. Some people will not show any signs at all, making it especially hard to realize if any types of mesothelioma are present. Some possible symptoms of mesothelioma can include respiratory distress, lasting cough and pneumonia.
It can take up to 15 to 50 years after asbestos exposure to notice mesothelioma symptoms. Mesothelioma is an incurable and rare form of cancer that is almost always linked to asbestos exposure. For people unaware of the dangers asbestos exposure can have or who did not realize they were subjected to such risks, the mesothelioma symptoms can be classified as something else. Even a small exposure can result in mesothelioma.
Every year in the U.S., about 2,500 to 4,000 patients are diagnosed with mesothelioma annually. A mesothelioma diagnosis can be very difficult because in addition to knowing very little compared to other forms of cancer, some patients will not show any mesothelioma symptoms or they will be mistaken for less serious illnesses. Mesothelioma symptoms can include respiratory distress, lasting cough, pneumonia, as well as other signs.
A mesothelioma prognosis is often grim, so it extremely important that any possible mesothelioma symptoms be immediately looked into because the sooner a diagnosis occurs, the sooner treatment can begin.