Asbestos and Its Historical Link to Tragedy and Compensation

Exposure to asbestos has been repeatedly linked to mesothelioma, a connection made as early as 1870 when E. Wagner recognized the disease. Two cases of asbestos-caused mesothelioma were also studied by Joseph Lieutaud via 3,000 autopsies. Though this sickness continued to be studied through 1960s, many fast-growing lung cancers had already been detected before this period. Only after the 1960s did mesothelioma become a well-recognized disease via a report from a South African mining community wherein thirty-three cases of the sickness were identified in persons between the ages of 31 and 68 years old. More cases were also reported from those who lived near the mining facility despite the fact that the patients were not employees of the mining facilities.

Asbestos and Its Historical Link to Tragedy and Compensation

Tracing Asbestos’ Effects

Asbestos, a known biological irritant, was first made for home use, such as insulation, gaskets, flooring and roofing. It was also commonly used for shipbuilding, brake pads and many other products. Because of its widespread usage, the number of asbestos exposure cases have grown over the years, and numerous people have been infected with asbestos-related illnesses. Most of these diseases are life-threatening, which is why many deaths can be traced to the inhalation of asbestos fibers.

The very first recorded diagnosis for an asbestos-related illness was made in 1924. A woman died due to asbestosis. She was working with the deadly material when she was a teenager. Given that the dormancy stage of the disease lasts for years, her body succumbed to asbestosis when she was only 23. Soon after, other diseases like mesothelioma and lung cancer were linked to asbestos exposure, explaining why there were so many “young deaths” years before the first case of asbestosis was discovered.

There are three main types of malignant mesothelioma, which is diagnosed based on a biopsy of tumor cell samples. About 50% to 70% of mesothelioma are the epithelioid type. This type has the best outlook for survival or prognosis. The other two types are the sarcomatoid type (7%-20%), and the mixed/biphasic type (25%-30%). Treatment options for all three types are the same. Unfortunately, the overall prognosis for patients with malignant mesothelioma remains poor.

In 1931, the government made laws that covered “asbestos diseases,” naming them as valid excuses to be absent from work. The need for ventilation was also stressed by such laws, which is why organizations that work with asbestos are required to increase workspace and provide equipment for ventilation.

The Inception of Asbestos Lawyers

As asbestos health hazards quickly became known to the public, many companies who manufactured and distributed asbestos tried to conceal the truth about asbestos and even withheld information showing that asbestos was present in their workspaces. This paved the way for more people to become asbestos victims. Thereafter, lawsuits were brought against a number of the companies, but some of them failed to bring justice to the victims.

Lawyers began to form groups dedicated to regulating the use of asbestos and defending asbestos victims. There were more courtroom victories for the victims and, as a result, laws limiting the use of asbestos were finally passed.

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