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Common Misconceptions About Asbestos & Mesothelioma

Lung x-ray showing cancer.

It's crucial to separate fact from fiction.

Asbestos is linked to mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer affecting the lining of the lungs and abdomen. Victims of mesothelioma may be eligible for compensation. It's important to understand the truth about mesothelioma and its link to asbestos exposure. Below, we debunk some common misconceptions about asbestos and mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma only affects direct asbestos handlers

Mesothelioma doesn't only affect direct handlers of asbestos. While workers who directly handle asbestos are at a higher risk of developing mesothelioma, indirect exposure can be just as dangerous. This can occur through:

  • Secondary exposure: Family members of workers who handle asbestos can be exposed to fibers brought home on clothing, hair, or skin.
  • Environmental exposure: People living near asbestos mines or factories where asbestos is processed may be exposed to airborne fibers. Also, those living in buildings with deteriorating asbestos-containing materials may be at risk.
  • Asbestos in public buildings: Asbestos was widely used in the construction of commercial and public buildings in the past. People who spend time in these buildings can be exposed to fibers, especially during renovations.

Asbestos is gone

Asbestos isn't fully banned in the U.S. and is still found in various products and structures. More importantly, asbestos can still be found in buildings constructed before the 1980s. Common asbestos-containing items include ceiling tiles, cement, electrical components, insulation, and siding.

Mesothelioma only affects the elderly

Mesothelioma primarily affects older individuals, partially due to its long latency period (10 to 40 years or more) and partially because it has been mostly banned since the 1980s. As a result, mesothelioma is most commonly diagnosed in people who are 65 years of age or older. However, there are a small number of mesothelioma cases each year diagnosed in younger people.

There's no viable treatment for mesothelioma

Mesothelioma, though aggressive, has seen treatment improvements in recent decades. Surgery can be an effective treatment for certain patients, especially those in the early stages of mesothelioma. Procedures may involve removing part of the lining of the chest or abdomen or even removing a lung in more advanced cases.

Chemotherapy is a standard treatment for mesothelioma and can be used before or after surgery as a standalone treatment. This can also help slow the progression of the disease and alleviate symptoms.

Additionally, radiation therapy is often used in conjunction with surgery and chemotherapy. It can help kill cancer cells and shrink tumors.

All asbestos is the same

Asbestos refers to six distinct silicate minerals, categorized into serpentine and amphibole groups. These are divided into two main types based on their fiber structure: serpentine and amphibole.

The only type of serpentine asbestos is chrysotile, often referred to as "white asbestos." It's the most commonly used form of asbestos. Chrysotile fibers are curly and flexible, which made them a popular choice in roofing materials, brake pads, insulation, and other materials.

Amphibole asbestos includes five types: amosite (brown asbestos), crocidolite (blue asbestos), anthophyllite, tremolite, and actinolite. Amphibole asbestos fibers are straight and needle-like. They are considered more hazardous than chrysotile due to their shape, which makes them more likely to lodge in the lungs if inhaled.

Asbestos dangers were always known to workers

For much of the 20th century, the health risks associated with asbestos exposure were not widely recognized or even actively suppressed by industries that profited from asbestos use. It wasn't until the 1980s that public awareness of the dangers of asbestos began to grow.

Immediate asbestos removal is always best

It's not always the best practice to immediately remove asbestos once it's found. If the asbestos-containing material is in good condition and is not likely to be disturbed or damaged, it might be safer to leave it in place. In these cases, the asbestos is often encapsulated or sealed to prevent fiber release.

Asbestos that is damaged, friable (easily crumbled), or showing signs of wear should be removed. Friable asbestos materials pose a higher risk as they can easily release fibers into the air.

Masks alone ensure safety around asbestos

While wearing a mask can help protect workers from inhaling asbestos fibers, it's just one component of a comprehensive safety approach. Not all masks provide adequate protection against asbestos fibers. A specific type of respirator equipped with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter is required.

Safe asbestos removal also requires setting up containment areas to prevent the spread of fibers. Proper containment includes using wet methods to minimize dust and disposal procedures for asbestos materials. If you're removing asbestos from your home, you must hire a specialist who knows how to properly remove it.

Asbestos only causes mesothelioma

While asbestos exposure is the only known cause of mesothelioma, mesothelioma is not the only disease caused by asbestos. Asbestos fibers can also increase the risk of other types of lung cancer, including both small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) and non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Individuals with any type of lung cancer who were exposed to asbestos may have legal recourse, even if they had other risk factors such as smoking.

What are my legal options if I'm suffering from mesothelioma?

If you were diagnosed with mesothelioma, you have the right to sue the responsible entity, such as a manufacturer, if they are still in business. Many asbestos manufacturers have filed for bankruptcy, and trust funds have been set up to compensate victims. Depending on the circumstances, you may be eligible to file both a mesothelioma lawsuit and a trust fund claim.

Compensation amounts for mesothelioma can range from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars. The Ferrell Law Group has been handling mesothelioma and asbestos litigation for over 30 years. We know how to investigate asbestos exposure cases and gather evidence to prove the validity of your claim. Additionally, we'll fight to maximize your compensation and help you get the justice you deserve.

Our law firm operates on a contingency fee basis. This means you only pay a fee if we recover damages, and there are no charges if we don't successfully secure compensation for you. To learn more, contact us today for a free consultation. We'll help you further explore your options and advise you on your rights.

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