Pacific Northwest lumber has been booming since the mid-1800s. Mills and mill towns popped up throughout the region – areas that relied on trade increasingly relied on the abundant northwestern resources to survive. Puget Sound became a hub of both industry and shipping – the protected ports of Seattle and its neighbours were hotbeds of commerce. King County grew rapidly. The surrounding areas reaped the benefits of the nearby metropolis. Despite the upscale amenities now offered in Seattle, the rapid growth of its early years has come at a significant price. The surrounding areas, including Shelton, were home to numerous industries that made use of asbestos. The Simpson Mill in Shelton is one of many area job sites that is known to have contained asbestos.
Asbestos is an industrial insulator. At the Simpson Mill, it was likely used to protect from the tremendous heat put off by the elements used to heat pulp as it was processed. If asbestos was any other material, the situation may not be so dire. Because of its composition, asbestos is prone to breaking down and shedding, especially after prolonged exposure to heat. When the insulating bricks of an industrial heating element are replaced, they’re often torn from various steam and exhaust manifolds, filling the area with dangerous dust. Even worse, asbestos was often used to insulate various pipes and ducts. The fact that replacements of both insulating bricks and insulated piping were performed while other workers were present means that even those working in completely unrelated areas could have been in danger. So long as the whole plant was breathing the same air – the same asbestos-ridden air – everyone was at risk.
Asbestos is composed of countless fused fibers. When those fibers separate and become airborne, they become a serious health concern. Inhaling asbestos fibers causes them to become embedded in the lungs. As the lung tissue works to uproot the caustic material, it generally damages surrounding tissue without ever resolving the problem. This means asbestos continues to damage the lungs long after exposure. Because the lungs are continuously trying to repair damage, random mutations in rapidly created cells can lead to the formation of malignant growths. If those growths can’t be handled by the immune system, they will rapidly evolve into cancer. The most serious asbestos-related illness is a cancer known as mesthelioma. It occurs when the cancerous cells occur on the outer lining of the lungs, rather than inside. The cancer can easily spread to the lining of other organs, making it nearly impossible to treat.
The fact is that industries knew the dangers of asbestos long before they told their employees. In most cases, basic respirators would have been enough risk mitigation. Instead of jeopardizing soaring profits, those companies chose to sacrifice employee health. For most, it would be decades before the first symptoms would arrive. If you or a loved one has developed mesothelioma, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We can help you hold accountable the people who violated your trust. We’re offering free consultations to those interested – let us seek justice on your behalf. We have more than thirty years experience, and you have more pressing concerns.