Asbestos, once among the most popular materials to use in construction, is now banned from use in flooring, paper and insulation products, as may not be used in any new products without a history of using asbestos in the manufacturing process – however, there is no total ban on the known carcinogen, despite the constant calls from public health researchers to remove it from use.
Heather Von St. James, a mother of a young daughter, told her story of wearing her father’s coat when she went outside on cold days growing up in the Black Hills of South Dakota in a recent article published by Forbes. Whenever she went outside during the cold months of the year, she would reach for her father’s massive coat that would envelop and keep her warm while picking up the newspaper or checking for new mail.
However, her father’s coat was filled with tiny asbestos fibers from his work in construction where he worked with concrete and drywall materials. These fibers made their way into both St. James’ and her father’s lungs – she underwent chemotherapy and surgery, eventually losing her left lung to the cancer that developed, while her father lost his life to renal carcinoma in 2014.
St. James is luckier than most who develop cancer from asbestos exposure, passing the 10-year survival mark a little bit more than a year ago, but approximately half of people diagnosed with mesothelioma still die within a year of their diagnosis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2,597 died from asbestos-related cancer in 2015, a slight increase from the 2,479 who died in 1999. This runs counter to what experts predicted in 2005, when they thought deaths tied to asbestos exposure would start to decrease after 2005. Researchers believe that this increase in fatalities may be tied to construction projects on old buildings that still contain the carcinogen.
“Although most deaths from malignant mesothelioma in the United States are the result of exposures to asbestos 20–40 years prior, new cases might result from occupational exposure to asbestos fibers during maintenance activities, demolition and remediation of existing asbestos in structures, installations and buildings if controls are insufficient to protect workers,” the researchers wrote.
Asbestos can still be found in countless locations throughout the United States, and workers and their families remain at risk of developing mesothelioma and other asbestos-related cancers. If you or someone you love was diagnosed with one of these types of cancers, our attorneys at Bailey Cowan Heckaman PLLC Cowan Heckaman are ready to help you fight for and secure the compensation you need to cover any medical bills or damages you may have incurred. Call us to speak with a member of our firm today, or schedule your free case consultation by sending us your information through our online form.