Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral we previously used in home construction. As a natural flame retardant and insulator, it was an inexpensive way to protect our homes. Unfortunately, we didn’t know at the time that asbestos can have negative health consequences. People began complaining of respiratory problems, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission banned all use of asbestos in homes during the 1970s.
For some, however, the damage was already done. Long-term asbestos exposure was shown to have tragic health consequences; namely, a condition called mesothelioma.
What Is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer than can affect the stomach, lungs, and heart. The Mayo Clinic estimates that there are fewer than 20,000 cases diagnosed per year (as a comparison, typical lung cancers affect over 200,000 per year). The tumors are very aggressive, and while treatment options are available, there’s no known cure.
How Do I Get Mesothelioma?
You’re unlikely to get mesothelioma from your living quarters because laws and regulations effectively phased out asbestos use and production for home construction. However, there are still occupations that use asbestos (e.g., the automotive industry uses it in the production of brake pads). If you’re in the mining industry or live near a mine that contains asbestos, you may be vulnerable to the disease and would benefit from consulting with an experienced West Virginia personal injury lawyer at Tiano O’Dell, PLLC. Additionally, if you remodel older homes (built prior to 1970) without the proper ventilation equipment, then you may run the risk of getting mesothelioma.
Symptoms of Mesothelioma
The types of symptoms you experience will depend on where the cancer is located. If you have pleural (lung) mesothelioma, you may notice tightness in the chest, painful coughing, or lumps under the skin on your chest. Peritoneal (stomach) mesothelioma may present abdominal pain or swelling. Finally, pericardial (heart) mesothelioma may cause intense chest pain and unexplained weight loss. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms and have known exposure to asbestos, you should see a doctor.
Is Mesothelioma Easy to Get?
Mesothelioma is not like the flu. It takes repeated exposure to asbestos over a long period of time to get it. At the same time, the disease seems to have a strong genetic base. Some people can endure decades of known exposure and never develop the condition while others may be exposed for a brief period and be diagnosed. The common thread between the two is that the cancer takes decades to manifest–sometimes 20 to 50 years after exposure.
If you know you’ve been exposed to asbestos, notify your doctor immediately. Like most cancers, early detection is essential for your quality of life.
If you work in construction, shipbuilding, or automotive industries, always take appropriate work precautions when handling asbestos. Make sure your employer provides you with safety gear, including ventilation hoods. If you don’t have proper protection, and you suspect asbestos exposure, you have a couple of options:
- Report the negligence to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. Your company is legally required to make reasonable accommodations to protect your safety.
- Consult with legal representation. Your health isn’t something you should take lightly; it’s your most valuable asset. Retain a West Virginia personal injury lawyer who will help you preserve it.
Hiring a Mesothelioma Attorney in West Virginia
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you’re likely worried about their health and the future of your family. The law office of Tiano O’Dell, PLLC is experienced in advocating for families who have been affected by this horrible disease. Call our office at (304) 720-6700 for a free case evaluation with a West Virginia mesothelioma lawyer. We may be able to secure you compensation for medical bills or emotional damages. There are no legal fees unless we win, so contact us today.