Medical History of Asbestos
Medical History of Asbestos
For decades, health experts tried to alert the public to health risks caused by asbestos.
In the 1920s and 30s, medical researchers documented asbestos-related diseases.
|1924||The first medical paper on asbestos-related health problems is published.2|
|1928||Health researchers realize that asbestos causes an entirely new respiratory disease which they name asbestosis.3|
|1928||Medical research conclusively shows that breathing in asbestos dust can cause death by pulmonary fibrosis.4|
|1928||Medical research shows that asbestosis can lead to lung cancer.5|
Asbestos industry executives downplayed and even suppressed medical research showing the health effects of asbestos.
By the 1930s, asbestos manufacturers knew that breathing in asbestos was a health hazard to their employees.6
- Some asbestos companies admitted to not informing employees when a company doctor diagnosed them with asbestosis.7 Employees who died from asbestos exposure were listed as dying of other causes.8
- Asbestos companies also conducted their own health research.9 But some suppressed findings that showed asbestos was dangerous.10
- When one study connected asbestos exposure to cancer, an asbestos manufacturer buried the report and had it rewritten to exclude all mention of cancer.11
In the 1960s, health experts began exposing the truth about asbestos-related illnesses.
In the 1950s, scientists showed that workers exposed to asbestos were much more likely to develop lung cancer.12
By the 1960s, it was clear to medical researchers that asbestos workers were at special risk of developing lung cancer and mesothelioma, and possibly other types of cancer.13
Doctors and health experts like Dr. Irving Selikoff tried to alert the public to the health risks posed by asbestos exposure.14
Dr. Selikoff and his colleagues called for stricter rules around asbestos to protect workers and the public.15 16
But the asbestos industry continued to deny the risks of asbestos.17
Executives at asbestos companies called Dr. Selikoff a ‘dangerous man’18 and talked about how to stop his efforts to warn the public that asbestos was dangerous.19
Asbestos executives hired people to publicly attack Dr. Selikoff’s research and even his character.20
By the 1970s, the asbestos industry could no longer hide its secret.
Asbestos exposure caught up with workers and consumers who had been exposed to asbestos for decades. They finally realized that their asbestos exposure had caused significant and often fatal diseases.
Why did it take so long for workers and consumers to learn the truth about asbestos-related illnesses?
Asbestos has a long latency.
That means asbestos exposure does not always immediately cause harm.
Asbestos fibers are microscopic particles that a person breathes in or swallows from the air. The particles embed in the lungs or other parts of the body.
Over time, the asbestos particles cause damage and scarring that leads to asbestosis, cancer or other asbestos-related illnesses.
Although it is clear that the health risks from asbestos exposure increase with heavier exposure and longer exposure time, investigators have found asbestos-related diseases in individuals with only brief exposures.
Generally, those who develop asbestos-related diseases show no signs of illness for a long time after exposure.
-National Cancer Institute (NIH)21
Studies have shown that after a person breathes in asbestos, illnesses caused by the exposure may take forty or fifty years to appear.
It is widely accepted that malignant pleural mesothelioma can develop 40-50 years after the first exposure to higher concentrations of the asbestos dust, even if the exposure was very short.22
In fact, scientists do not yet know how for certain just how long the asbestos latency period might last.
[Asbestos] fibers can remain in place for a very long time and may never be removed. Most of the harmful impacts of
asbestos will not be seen immediately. They often develop years after exposure occurs.
–American Lung Association23
Even a small exposure can cause asbestos-related illnesses.
Asbestos is dusty, durable, quickly airborne, microscopic and easily inhaled or swallowed.
Scientific research strongly suggests even brief or second-hand exposure to asbestos is a potential hazard. No level is safe.24
Asbestos and asbestos-related illness aren’t going away.
Some people think asbestos and its dangers are no longer a problem. But this is incorrect. There is still a great deal of asbestos in buildings and other structures.
“Unfortunately, the incidence of Malignant Mesothelioma has not shown any sign of vanishing anywhere in the world. While asbestos exposure in the workplace has largely been eliminated in the US and Europe, environmental exposure, from outdoor air pollution has not and may be increasing.”25
More importantly, asbestos exposure from decades ago is still causing health problems in workers and their families today.
Recent health research into asbestos-related cancer like mesothelioma has found that incidents have often continued or even risen.
“Even if a worldwide ban on asbestos were to be introduced forthwith, past exposures will ensure that death and disease related to asbestos continue for the foreseeable future.”26
Asbestos is a highly durable fibrous mineral that resists heat, corrosion, electricity, dissolution and sound:
- Heat / Fire
- Water (does not dissolve)
Asbestos is a highly versatile building material.
- Asbestos fibers can be shaped, and even woven into cloth.
- Asbestos can be sprayed on surfaces to make them fireproof.
- Asbestos or mixed with other building materials to make them stronger and heat resistant.
For this reason, asbestos was used throughout industry and home in buildings, structures, vehicles, vessels, machinery and products of all kinds.
The Environmental Protection Agency has stated that people can still be exposed to asbestos at buildings like worksites and even homes, because the amount of asbestos remaining is still unknown.27
Asbestos fibers are microscopic, and easily inhaled.
Asbestos has no taste, there is no “asbestos smell,” and people exposed to asbestos may not even know they inhaled it.
The tiny asbestos fibers get stuck in the lungs.
Over time, they make it harder to breathe and can cause health problems, including various types of cancer.
The National Cancer Institute states that there is no known safe level of asbestos exposure.
Even a small exposure to asbestos in your childhood can cause or complicate other asbestos-related diseases like asbestosis, pleural plaque or cancer of the lungs, throat, stomach or colon cancer. Symptoms can get worse over time.
People exposed to asbestos in their twenties have developed asbestos-related illnesses forty or fifty years later.28
The first symptom of an asbestos-related disease is usually shortness of breath.
But sometimes people chalk their breathing troubles up to a smoking habit, or their roll of the dice. Many do not make the connection that asbestos caused their illness or aggravated their condition.
ASBESTOS MYTH: If I was a smoker, or had cancer in my family, asbestos couldn’t have caused my cancer, and I can’t collect any compensation.
Mesothelioma is a type of respiratory cancer that is caused almost exclusively by asbestos.29
Smoking is not the cause of mesothelioma, and may not even affect it. Even lifetime smokers can often recover compensation for injuries caused by asbestos-related mesothelioma.30 31
For people exposed to asbestos, smoking can increase the likelihood of developing lung cancer.32
If asbestos contributed to a regular smoker’s lung cancer or other carcinoma, many still receive money for healthcare costs, lost wages and pain and suffering.
As dedicated asbestos claims attorneys, we have had clients collect compensation for their healthcare bills, lost wages and physical pain influenced by asbestos exposure, even though they were lifelong smokers.
Many people do not know they were exposed to asbestos in the home.
People who shared a household with workers exposed to asbestos may also be at risk of exposure and asbestos-related illnesses.
Researchers have confirmed “a consistent elevated risk of mesothelioma” in people who regularly washed the clothing of asbestos workers. Asbestos on clothing has been shown to secondarily impact thousands, particularly spouses.33
Many work sites regularly exposed workers to asbestos inhalation, including many employees whose jobs did not directly involve asbestos.
Asbestos is resistant to heat, electricity and corrosion. Asbestos fibers do not evaporate or dissolve in water.
Asbestos can also be easily broken up into fibers and woven, sprayed or mixed with other building materials to strengthen and fireproof them.
Asbestos was used in many worksites, machinery, vehicles, vessels, tools and products.
Many workers brought home asbestos fibers on their clothes and tools.
- Asbestos is a very dusty mineral that sticks to fabric and surfaces.
- Asbestos fibers can be microscopic, and are not easily removed.
- Asbestos is easily inhaled or swallowed, and has no taste or smell.
Many people with asbestos-related illnesses were exposed by regularly cleaning their spouses’ asbestos-covered uniforms, work clothes, bags and tools.34
Asbestos fibers are easily airborne, and just sharing a closed space with someone covered in asbestos can lead to harmful asbestos exposure.
Asbestos was also used in many automobile parts like brakes and gaskets.
Working on an older vehicle in a garage may have exposed the mechanic and others in the garage to asbestos fibers.
There is more work to be done in studying the health problems of people who shared a household with workers exposed to asbestos.35 But those who may have been exposed can speak to a health professional about screening for illnesses before they worsen.
Spouses and others who shared a household with someone who was exposed to asbestos at work may want to see a healthcare professional to discuss medical tests for early-detection of asbestos damage.
The Asbestos Industry Hid The Dangers of Its Product For Decades
When asbestos manufacturers and their insurance companies got caught, they were ordered by courts to set aside a portion of the insurance money to compensate people who were injured by asbestos exposure.
But millions of people injured who were exposed to asbestos do not know there is a thirty-billion dollar fund set aside for their injuries.
In many cases, they do not even need to file a lawsuit to obtain compensation.
The Law Offices of Justinian C. Lane, Esq. – PLLC
Millions of workers and their families were exposed to asbestos because the asbestos industry hid the dangers of its product.
Courts ordered that billions of insurance dollars be placed in trusts to compensate people with asbestos-related illnesses.
But many people with asbestos-related illnesses who were exposed to asbestos do not know they qualify for compensation.
Most can receive money without filing a lawsuit.
Justinian Means Justice.
We have helped thousands of people receive compensation for health issues that they developed from asbestos exposure.
If you have symptoms of asbestos-related illness, speak to a healthcare professional.
The Environmental Protection Agency has stated that people can still be exposed to asbestos at buildings like worksites and even homes, because the amount of asbestos remaining is still unknown.36
Our firm constantly monitors the most up-to-date health research on asbestos. We use it to update our database to develop and strengthen our asbestos claims for our clients.
Our archival database has virtually all available information on asbestos use and its health effects. If you think you may have worked with asbestos, we can check your worksite or the products you worked with on our database.
Asbestos never leaves the body.
Asbestos can cause these health problems even if your asbestos exposure took place forty or fifty years ago. Symptoms can take decades to appear.
Applying for asbestos trust fund compensation is not getting into a fight.
This money was set aside in a trust account for those who were injured.
Applying for a payment from these trusts is not affecting any company or coming out of anyone’s pocket. This is insurance money specifically to help people hurt by asbestos.
The court ordered the funds because the asbestos industry could no longer hide its secret: asbestos is very dangerous to breathe.
The Law Offices of Justinian C. Lane, Esq. – PLLC
My grandfather, grandmother and father were all exposed to asbestos in their work, and all three died of respiratory-related cancers.
I found out too late about the health effects of asbestos to help them.
But my firm has helped many other people receive compensation for health problems they developed from exposure to asbestos.
Call, text or email us for a completely free consultation with no obligation. I will listen to the details of your story, and explain your options. We only work on contingency, so we only get paid if you do.
Every case is different, but the Law Offices of Justinian C. Lane, Esq. – PLLC has obtained large settlements for thousands of people harmed by asbestos. This compensation has helped ease our clients’ financial burdens, and offers a legacy to leave for their loved ones.
At AsbestosClaims.Law, we’ve helped thousands of people who were exposed to asbestos in their job, car or at home.
Can we help you?
1 National Cancer Institute (NIH), Asbestos Fact Sheet. Citing National Toxicology Program. Asbestos. In: Report on Carcinogens. Fourteenth Edition. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, National Toxicology Program, 2016.
2 Fibrosis of the lungs due to the inhalation of asbestos dust, Cooke, W. E. British Medical Journal (1924).
3 Clinical aspects of pulmonary asbestosis, T. Oliver, British medical journal (1927).
4 Report on Effects of Asbestos Dust on the Lungs and Dust Suppression in the Asbestos Industry. Part I. Occurrence of Pulmonary Fibrosis and Other Pulmonary Affections in Asbestos Workers, E.R.A. Merewether and C. W. Price, London H.M.S.O. (1930).
5 Pulmonary asbestosis III: Carcinoma of lung in asbesto-silicosis, K.M. Lynch and W.A. Smith, The American Journal of Cancer (1935).
6 History of asbestos related disease, P W J Bartrip, British Medical Journal, 2004.
7 Testimony of Charles H. Roemer, Deposition taken April 25, 1984, Johns-Manville Corp., et al. v. the United States of America, U.S. Claims Court Civ. No. 465-83C, cited in Barry I. Castleman, Asbestos: Medical and Legal Aspects, 4th edition, Aspen Law and Business, Englewood Cliffs, NJ 1996, p.581
8 Death certificates in epidemiological studies, including occupational hazards: Inaccuracies in occupational categories, Irving J. Selikoff MD, American Journal of Industrial Medicine (1992).
9 Fatal Deception: The Terrifying True Story of How Asbestos Is Killing America, Michael Bowker (2003).
10 Saving the Asbestos Industry, 1960 to 2006, Jock McCulloch, PhD, Public Health Reports (2006).
11 Saving the Asbestos Industry, 1960 to 2006, Jock McCulloch, PhD, Public Health Reports (2006).
12 Mortality from lung cancer in asbestos workers, Richard Doll, British journal of industrial medicine (1955).
13 British Medical Journal, 1965. Journal of the American Medical Association, 1968.
14 Saving the Asbestos Industry, 1960 to 2006, Jock McCulloch, PhD, Public Health Reports (2006).
15 Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, Volume 132 (1965).
16 History of asbestos related disease, P W J Bartrip, British Medical Journal, 2004.
17 Science is Not Sufficient: Irving J. Selikoff and the Asbestos Tragedy, Jock McCulloch and Geoffrey Tweedale, New Solutions (2007).
18 Defending the Indefensible: The Global Asbestos Industry and its Fight for Survival, Jock McCulloch, Geoffrey Tweedale, Oxford University Press (2008).
19 Science is Not Sufficient: Irving J. Selikoff and the Asbestos Tragedy, Jock McCulloch and Geoffrey Tweedale, New Solutions (2007).
20 Defending the Indefensible: The Global Asbestos Industry and its Fight for Survival, Jock McCulloch, Geoffrey Tweedale, Oxford University Press (2008).
21 National Cancer Institute (NIH), Asbestos Fact Sheet.
22 Malignant and non-malignant asbestos-related pleural and lung disease: 10-year follow-up study. Vujoviæ, M., Vukoviæ, J. and Beg-Zec, Z.,Public Health (2003).
23 The American Lung Association, Clean Air, Asbestos.
24 An Evaluation of Reported No-Effect Chrysotile Asbestos Exposures for Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma, Jennifer S. Pierce, Meg A. McKinley, Dennis J. Paustenbach & Brent L. Finley, Critical Views In Toxicology (2008).
25 Malignant Mesothelioma: Facts, Myths and Hypotheses, Michele Carbone, Bevan H. Ly, Ronald F. Dodson, Ian Pagano, Paul T. Morris, Umran A. Dogan, Adi F. Gazdar, Harvey I. Pass, and Haining Yang, Journal of Cellular Physiology (2012).
26 British Medical Journal, 2004.
27 Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological Profile for Asbestos. September 2001. Retrieved March 15, 2021.
28 An Evaluation of Reported No-Effect Chrysotile Asbestos Exposures for Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma, Jennifer S. Pierce, Meg A. McKinley, Dennis J. Paustenbach & Brent L. Finley, Critical Views In Toxicology (2008).
29 Asbestos-related lung disease, O’Reilly KMA, McLaughlin AM, Beckett WS, et al. American Family Physician (2007).
30 Cigarette Smoking, Asbestos Exposure, and Malignant Mesothelioma, Joshua E. Muscat and Ernst L. Wynder, Cancer Research (1991).
31 Environmental asbestos exposure and malignant pleural mesothelioma, M. Metintas, N. Ozdemir, G. Hillerdal, I. Ucgun, S. Metintas, C. Baykul, O. Elbek, S. Mutlu and M. Kolsuz, Respiratory Medicine (1999).
32 Asbestos-related lung disease, O’Reilly KMA, McLaughlin AM, Beckett WS, et al. American Family Physician (2007).
33 Airborne asbestos take-home exposures during handling of chrysotile-contaminated clothing following simulated full shift workplace exposures, Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology (2015).
34 Airborne asbestos take-home exposures during handling of chrysotile-contaminated clothing following simulated full shift workplace exposures, Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology (2015).
35 Nonoccupational Exposure to Chrysotile Asbestos and the Risk of Lung Cancer, Michel Camus, Jack Siemiatycki, Bette Meek. New England Journal of Medicine (1998).
36 Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological Profile for Asbestos. September 2001. Retrieved March 15, 2021.