If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, chances are good that you were exposed to asbestos through your job or military service. The exposure was probably not recent. Sometimes asbestos fibers can sit in the body for decades before the cancer becomes apparent. Asbestos was not regulated until 1971, and was common in many buildings and workplaces.
It is possible that a job you had 30 or more years ago exposed you to the asbestos that caused your cancer. So, as you discuss with your doctor and/or lawyer, keep in mind your entire work career.
Exposure can come from placing asbestos in buildings or from removing or repairing asbestos-containing products or equipment. Contractors get exposed when working with or around old pipes, electrical work, floor tiles, plaster walls, insulation or other products containing asbestos. You did not need to be working directly with asbestos to be exposed. It is possible you were exposed due to work around others who were working with asbestos.
Brake lines used asbestos for quite some time, and so mechanics who used to work on brakes are sometimes exposed and develop asbestos cancer. People who are not mechanics professionals but who work on cars or machines can be at risk too—for example, farmers who work on their tractors.
Many naval ships had large boilers, turbines, valves and insulated piping. This equipment was often insulated with asbestos. Working on the crews of these ships has led to exposure in many cases, as has working on the ships themselves in a shipyard.
All of these jobs require working in tight spaces. Some of those tight spaces might have had asbestos, especially if there was older pipe insulation or an older boiler.
Many industrial processes have used asbestos as an insulator or flame retardant. Asbestos may also have been used to manufacture some items, like brake lines. Working in industry exposed many to asbestos during the manufacturing process.
Many firefighters have unfortunately also been exposed to asbestos. First, asbestos is a flame retardant, and so firefighters would sometimes come into contact with it in older equipment or demonstration materials. Second, they could have come into contact with airborne asbestos while saving an older home or building.
Older rail lines often used asbestos. It could be found in train cars, brake pads, rail ties, and pipes connected to steam engines. Though these have not been around for a while, railway workers are often exposed when old tracks are dug up.
For a long time, asbestos was used in a lot of places. It could be found in homes, in workplaces, and even on ships and trains.
Asbestos could be a part of many products and parts. For example, asbestos was commonly used in:
Asbestos was also common in certain kinds of consumer products—for example, hair dryers (insulated lining), pot holders, cookware, ashtrays, and coasters.
Cancer is a frightening thing. When people are afraid of cancer, they spend a lot of time thinking about how it happened, and how it could have been prevented. That’s natural.
But people also speculate as to how they (or their loved ones) got cancer.
So, to clear the record, here are some things that we know scientifically, for a fact, do not cause mesothelioma:
You’re not alone. Every year, hundreds of new cases of asbestos cancer emerge. Its widespread use in business, industry, and even consumer products made it hard for some people to avoid.
If you have a diagnosis of mesothelioma (asbestos cancer) or lung cancer, follow your doctor’s suggestions. Then contact a lawyer who specializes in asbestos exposure claims. You might have a case and could be entitled to a payout to help offset your medical bills and provide additional compensation.