Asbestos Products & Materials
Asbestos products may be present in your home or workplace and can seriously harm your health. Until the 1970s, companies relied heavily on asbestos in construction components such as insulation, flooring, and roofing. Inhaling asbestos fibers from these products raises the risk of developing life-threatening diseases, particularly lung cancer and mesothelioma. Bergman Oslund Udo Little helps victims and their families seek justice and compensation for their suffering caused by asbestos exposure.
Asbestos is a natural mineral fiber that has long been used in building and construction because of its strength and fire resistance. Until the 1970s, most construction sites overflowed with asbestos products, ranging from vinyl floor tiles and siding to insulation and electrical circuit breakers.
When manufacturers finally admitted that asbestos was causing lung damage and cancer, they significantly decreased its use and applications. Unfortunately, many older buildings still contain asbestos, putting unknowing victims at risk.
The asbestos attorneys at Bergman Oslund Udo Little are experts in asbestos-exposure claims, including mesothelioma cases. When your health suffers because you inhaled asbestos fibers, you deserve fair compensation. To determine whether you have a valid claim, you first need to know the types of asbestos products, where you might have been exposed to them, and how they might have affected you.
Industrial Asbestos Products
The use of asbestos at job sites has been tied to countless cases of mesothelioma and other cancers. Asbestos products are prominent in industrial settings, appearing in machines and the buildings themselves, which puts countless workers in harm’s way. The following are some common worksites where asbestos is prevalent.
Manufacturers used asbestos in much of the heavy machinery used in paper mills, including storage tanks, pumps, and dryer felts. It was also a popular option for insulation. Paper mill workers who used these machines or were present during maintenance and repair processes may have been exposed to asbestos.
Shipyard workers are often asbestos victims because of the amount used in constructing ships. Bulkheads and insulation around pipes, boilers, and machinery often contain asbestos fibers that become released into the air during repairs or installation. Studies have shown that shipyard workers and sailors have a higher risk of developing mesothelioma.
Employees in power plants were also exposed to high levels of asbestos, and they remain at risk during maintenance and repair processes. Asbestos was present in the fireproof spray used on equipment and machinery as well as in insulation and construction materials. As early as the late 1970s, researchers uncovered evidence that power plants were unsafe environments for workers due to asbestos.
Asbestos Products in Your Home
Your home should be a safe space, but asbestos products often pose a hidden danger. Before performing any kind of home maintenance or repair, it’s vital to know where asbestos fibers might be lurking, including in the following components:
- Insulation: Besides loose-fill insulation in attics and under floorboards, asbestos blankets and tape were often used around boilers and pipes in older homes.
- Ductwork: It is common to find asbestos in heating ducts, especially around bends and connections.
- Floor tiles: Vinyl, rubber, and asphalt flooring and the adhesives used to secure them may contain asbestos.
- Ceiling Tiles: Commonly found in office buildings and home basements with drop-down ceilings.
- Gaskets and compounds: Manufacturers often used asbestos in gaskets for stoves and furnaces and in patching compounds used to repair interior surfaces.
- Drywall: Asbestos-based drywall was popular for home construction for several decades.
- Exterior materials: Shingles, vinyl siding, and cement roofing may contain asbestos fibers.
Although asbestos products may be present in your home, they usually don’t present a risk as long as they’re in good condition and aren’t disturbed. However, if you sand, saw, drill, or cut through an asbestos-containing product, you might release fibers into the air and inadvertently inhale them.
Why Was Asbestos Used in Building Products?
Becoming more knowledgeable about asbestos can help you decide how to protect yourself from future exposure. For over a century, asbestos has been one of the most popular materials used in building and construction.
Asbestos is heat-resistant and has strong fibers, which made it an appealing option for thermal and acoustic insulation. Companies have also used it as a fire retardant in various products that typically appear at building sites, including roof shingles and concrete.
Is Asbestos Still Used Today?
Some companies continue to use asbestos in their products, but it’s far less common than in the past. After years of research and repeated confirmation that asbestos poses a serious threat to human health, most industries have shifted to alternate materials. However, that doesn’t mean a property is asbestos-free.
Because asbestos was used for so many years, many older homes, commercial properties, and schools still have materials and products made with asbestos. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, asbestos is especially widespread in buildings constructed between 1930 and 1950.
Is Asbestos Illegal?
A long list of countries have banned asbestos, but the United States has not. Despite legal efforts in the early 1990s, American companies can still use asbestos in small amounts. The United States Environmental Protection Agency and other government agencies have implemented several laws and regulations on asbestos use, but they don’t guarantee full protection from exposure.
Although companies may be permitted to use asbestos in certain items, you may be able to seek damages from manufacturers if you’ve experienced health effects because of exposure. An asbestos lawyer in Oregon or Washington can offer guidance on the strength of your case.
Effects of Exposure to Asbestos Products
People exposed to asbestos may develop long-term health effects, including asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. Asbestos products in good condition are probably safe, but when they’re damaged or removed, and people inhale the fibers, they can cause permanent damage to the body.
While other types of cancer have many causes, asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma—a cancer that affects the lining of organs in the chest and abdomen.
Unfortunately, the impact of asbestos exposure is typically not immediately apparent. Many people with asbestos-related conditions do not develop symptoms for years or decades, and mesothelioma may develop as long as 60 years after exposure.
If you’re concerned you might have signs of mesothelioma, don’t hesitate to speak to your doctor. According to the American Lung Association, the most common symptoms of the disease include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest or lower back pain
- Difficulty swallowing
- A dry cough that doesn’t go away
- Sudden weight loss
- Swelling of the face and arms
To diagnose mesothelioma, doctors use a combination of tests, including X-rays, CT scans, and biopsies. Treatment is similar to that of other cancers. Depending on the disease’s severity and your overall health, you might undergo surgery, chemotherapy, or immunotherapy.
What To Do if You Were Exposed to Asbestos
Asbestos exposure and the damage it can do is a frightening prospect, especially if you worked in an industrial or construction setting where exposure was a regular occurrence. Whether you have lost a loved one to mesothelioma or are just beginning to experience the effects of exposure, contacting a reputable asbestos lawyer in Washington or Oregon is the first step toward seeking justice.
For nearly 30 years, the attorneys at Bergman Oslund Udo Little have fought for mesothelioma victims and their families. If you or someone you know has suffered from asbestos exposure, contact Bergman Oslund Udo Little for a free case review.