Many people have heard the strange name of the deadly disease known as mesothelioma, but what is it and how do you get it?
Malignant mesothelioma is often referred to simply as mesothelioma, which is a rare and fatal form of cancer found in the sac lining the chest (the pleura) or the abdomen (the peritoneum), that is primarily associated with exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is a set of six naturally occurring silicate minerals that were extensively used because of resistance to heat, electrical, and chemical damage (asbestos fibers are often mixed with cement or woven into mats or fabric when used for resistence to heat and fire). Asbestos has been used for thousands of years but became more widely used beginning in the late 1800s for insulation in the U.S., when the first asbestos mines opened in the U.S. (and have since closed). By the 1900s, asbestos was widely used for fire retardant coatings, pipe insulation, and in other products such as drywall joint compound and brake pads and brake shoes. During World War II, asbestos was extensively used in ship building, where many Americans were exposed to and inhaled asbestos fibers in the air. Asbestos use in the U.S. peaked in 1973. Asbestos still exists in many older buildings in the U.S. and an estimated 1.3 million construction and industry workers are potentially being exposed to asbestos at the present time. It is important that existing asbestos in buildings not be disturbed during maintenance, renovation, and demolition without proper precautions and that workers and the public are not exposed to asbestos.
It typically takes from 20 to 40 years for mesothelioma to be diagnosed after exposure to asbestos. Between 1999 and 2005, 18,068 deaths of people with malignant mesothelioma were reported (increasing from 2,482 in 1999 to 2,704 in 2005, an increase of 8.9%). It is thought that mesothelioma deaths peaked by 2010.
Some studies suggest that carbon nanotubes (fiber-shaped nanoparticles) that are increasingly being used in manufacturing may induce mesothelioma. So while deaths from mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure may decrease in the future, future exposures to other products may contribute to a rise in malignant mesothelioma deaths due to other causes.
People who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma may be entitled to compensation for their medical expenses and other damages. We may be able to help you find a lawyer in your local area who can advise you with regard to your rights. Simply fill out the form on our website for assistance or call us toll free at 800-295-3959.