Plumbers, Pipefitters and their Families have shared exposure to asbestos fibers that may lead to Mesothelioma and other asbestos related diseases. Since the increase in use that occurred starting about 1860 when it became widely used as insulation many people have been exposed. Plumbers and Pipefitters were exposed because of its use in insulation for boilers and pipes, transite pipe, and the many building materials that they had to cut and drill through. They were also exposed to it in materials used by other trades on the jobsite in virtually every material from drywall compound, to floor tiles and even shingles. The plumbers and pipefitters exposure was not even limited to them but also to their families as they came home wearing clothing laden with small asbestos fibers. These small fibers could easily become airborne on air currents alone and be inhaled by their family.
What Is Asbestos?
Asbestos is probably one of the best insulations for high temperature applications ever found. It is a naturally occurring silicate mineral that has long thin crystal fibers and its history of being spun into thread and made into cloth dates back to ancient Greece. Unfortunately it is also recorded in the First Century AD that the first known casualties of asbestos were the slaves that wove it into fibers for cloth in ancient Greece and Rome who suffered lung damage. The first modern day documentations of death from asbestos exposure came in the early 1900’s when a large number of deaths were noted in communities where asbestos mining operations were being conducted. In England in 1924 came the first diagnosis of Asbestosis and by 1930 it was recognized as a work related disease. The US followed about 10 years after England. In 1931 the word Mesothelioma was first used in medical literature to describe a form of cancer that is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos.
What Is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that develops in the mesothelium which is a protective lining surrounding most of the internal organs. The most common sites are in the tissues surrounding the heart and lungs but, may also occur in the abdomen and even the testes. The time from asbestos exposure to onset of Mesothelioma can range from fifteen to even fifty years. There are many symptoms of Mesothelioma that can often be blamed on other illnesses so diagnosis is often delayed. The symptoms may include shortness of breath and chest pain, fluid surrounding the heart and lung, coughing up blood, anemia, fatigue, wheezing, cough and even lung collapse. Abdominal Mesothelioma symptoms often come much later in the stages of the disease and include weight loss, abdominal pain, fluid build up in the abdomen, and problems with bowel function. The best course of action is to tell your doctor that you have a known exposure to asbestos and hope that the doctor will correlate any of the symptoms that may appear in you to the disease in time. Unfortunately the prognosis is not very good when a person is diagnosed with Mesothelioma the success rate of treatment is 74.6% effective in prolonging the patient’s life by five years or more and as with any cancer early diagnosis is key in the success of treatment.
Mesothelioma Litigation is becoming quite common because of the way companies involved in the mining and production of asbestos covered up the relation of asbestos to the asbestos related diseases. The first asbestos related lawsuit was in 1929 and as part of the settlement lawyers in the case had to agree not to pursue other cases against the industry. This cover up led to ridiculous uses of asbestos in things like Kent cigarette filters from 1952 to 1956 and its use in hair dryers. The US government did not even start looking at the asbestos hazard until 1971 and in 1989 instituted a ban which was later overturned in 1991 decision by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. The estimates of liability for the asbestos industry in the US alone, has been made by some estimates to be in the $200 Billion range involving 6,000 defendants and 600,000 plaintiffs.