What Makes Asbestos a Carcinogen?

December 14th, 2020

Most people know that asbestos causes cancer, but not as many people are familiar with what asbestos is, how it’s used and where it’s found, and how it causes cancer. Not knowing these things makes it easier to be exposed to asbestos without realizing it.

If you were diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer associated with asbestos, you may be eligible for compensation if you were exposed through someone else’s negligence. But first you’ll need to be able to establish how you were exposed.

What Is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a group of naturally forming fibrous minerals that have long been used in a wide variety of building materials and even some consumer goods due to their durability and strong resistance to heat. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until the late 1970s that the general public became aware that exposure to asbestos puts people at an increased risk of mesothelioma and other cancers.

What Kinds of Products Use Asbestos?

Asbestos was in wide use from the 1930s until the 1970s, and can be found in a variety of products, including:

  • Roofing
  • Flooring
  • Insulation
  • Drywall
  • Paint
  • Cement
  • Sealant
  • Rubber
  • Asphalt
  • Plastic
  • Textiles
  • Fireproof products such as fire blankets
  • Auto parts

Why Is Asbestos Harmful?

Asbestos is formed of tiny fibers that, when disturbed, break off and get into the air, forming dust clouds. When these microscopic pieces of asbestos get inside the body, they can become permanently trapped.

Once inside the body, they cause irritation, inflammation, internal scarring, and even genetic damage. As you can imagine, this causes serious health problems.

Both studies of people and lab studies of animals have shown that exposure to asbestos is linked to cancer.

Exposure to asbestos is one of the only known causes of mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer affecting the membranes lining the chest and abdomen. However, asbestos has also been linked to other forms of cancer, including lung, larynx, colorectal, and ovarian cancers.

Signs of asbestos exposure include shortness of breath, chronic cough, coughing up blood, difficulty swallowing, weight loss, fatigue, and anemia.

How Are People Exposed to Asbestos?

Most people exposed to asbestos either work in industries that use asbestos, or live or work in buildings containing asbestos. The asbestos is breathed in through the air or carried to new areas by collecting on clothing. This is how family members of workers who are around asbestos may have also been exposed to asbestos.

People can also be exposed to asbestos by consuming food and drink that have been contaminated with asbestos – for example, drinking water that flowed through a pipe made of asbestos concrete.

Finally, asbestos is often mined near talc, so consumer goods such as cosmetics or feminine hygiene products that use talcum powder may also have been contaminated with asbestos.

Exposed to Asbestos and Diagnosed with Cancer? You Could Be Eligible for Compensation

Although asbestos is no longer mined in the U.S., it’s still legal to use it in products, and many workers in Louisiana, including workers in shipyards and oil refineries, continue to be exposed.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may have a case for compensation for your cancer-related medical expenses and pain and suffering. Contact our Louisiana personal injury legal team today for more information.