As it is with most complex subjects, there are a number of myths about mesothelioma and
asbestos exposure that should be addressed. Our attorneys are dedicated to providing our clients with the truth about
asbestos and asbestos-related health problems so they can make informed and beneficial choices about their unique cases, whether it is to take legal action, to seek
VA benefits, to file a workers' compensation claim or to take any other steps to recover financial compensation and seek medical care.
Napoli Bern Ripka Shkolnik, LLP represents mesothelioma patients across the U.S. and has the resources and manpower to handle these complicated cases on our own. We have no need to refer mesothelioma lawsuits to other attorneys, as so many other firms do. In fact, we have more than 35 attorneys in our Asbestos Litigation Department to handle these cases. The following are some common myths about mesothelioma and asbestos:
Myth: Asbestos is banned in the U.S. Many people mistakenly believe that asbestos is completely banned in the United States, but this is simply not the case. Federal asbestos bans only exist on certain
products, including: spray-on asbestos products, corrugated paper, rollboard, commercial paper, specialty paper, flooring felt, artificial fireplace embers and wall patching compounds. Certain types of pipe insulation and block insulation are also banned. All other types of asbestos products are allowed, such as caulking, drywall, brake pads, roof coatings, millboard, cement pipe, transmission components, cement sheet, clothing and cement shingles. People in various occupations are still exposed to asbestos today.
Myth: Only the elderly are affected by mesothelioma. This misconception has a reasonable source, considering the long latency period for this disease.
Symptoms typically do not present for 20 to 50 years after exposure, making it seem as though only the elderly are affected. There have been cases, however, where far younger people contracted mesothelioma from early exposure. This includes a 28-year-old who succumbed to mesothelioma in 2008; her exposure was likely caused by walking to school as a child through a factory yard where asbestos materials were handled. Two 13-year-olds, one in Manchester and one in Montana, have also been diagnosed with mesothelioma.
Myth: You are only at risk of mesothelioma if you work directly with asbestos. People who live or work in the vicinity of asbestos mines or factories and the families of asbestos workers may also be at risk of exposure. Asbestos fibers are easily airborne and may travel relatively long distances, where they may be inhaled or ingested by nearby residents or workers. They may also settle on workers' clothing, skin, hair or shoes, where they are unintentionally brought into the home environment. One major source of exposure was in spouses who washed the clothing of workers who dealt with asbestos fibers. In shaking out and washing laundry, they would inhale disturbed fibers.
Myth: Only long-term exposure to asbestos causes mesothelioma. This is another myth that may be associated with mesothelioma's long latency period, but the fact is that a person may develop health problems from short-term exposure, depending on the amount of fibers inhaled or swallowed. Continued, long-term exposure is likely to increase one's risks of experiencing health problems, but short-term exposure does not eliminate this risk.
Myth: Wearing a mask or other respiratory gear is enough to protect against asbestos exposure. A proper mask/respirator is certainly a step in the right direction when it comes to protection against asbestos exposure, but it should not be the only step taken to protect workers. Asbestos fibers are easily transferred on skin and clothing and may also become airborne, where they may be carried long distances by the wind. Anyone working with or around asbestos should have proper respiratory protection and protective clothing and should be specially trained on how to deal with asbestos removal at the worksite to prevent others from being exposed as well.
Myth: There is only one type of asbestos. The term "asbestos" is often used as though it were a single mineral, but the fact is that it is a group of minerals. There are six different
types of asbestos; each of these has slightly different qualities. There are two main groups that these six types of asbestos fall under: serpentine (with long, curled fibers) and amphibole (with straight, needle-like fibers). The most common type of asbestos is
chrysotile asbestos, which is of the serpentine group.
Myth: Mesothelioma is a type of lung cancer. Mesothelioma is certainly a type of cancer, but it is not technically a
lung cancer. It is a cancer that affects the mesothelium, a special membrane that lines, protects and lubricates certain organs and cavities in the body. The majority of mesothelioma cases are categorized as
pleural mesothelioma, affecting the lining of the lungs. This is likely the reason mesothelioma may be thought of as a type of lung cancer by some. Mesothelioma may also affect the lining of the abdomen and abdominal organs, heart or testicles.
We hope you were able to gain some helpful insight regarding asbestos exposure and mesothelioma by reviewing the above myths. If you are interested in learning more or would like to talk to a legal professional about your legal rights as a person who has been exposed to asbestos, please do not hesitate to contact a mesothelioma lawyer at our firm. Your initial consultation is free and strictly confidential.