What is Mesothelioma? Mesothelioma results when asbestos fibers are inhaled or ingested into the body, forming cancerous tumors in the lining of the lungs or abdomen—or more rarely, the heart or testes. Once diagnosed, mesothelioma does not have a high rate of survival, although consulting a mesothelioma specialist can improve the prognosis in many cases. Treatments for mesothelioma usually include surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. There are approximately 3,000 Americans diagnosed with mesothelioma each year and the disease has no other known cause other than asbestos exposure.
Approximately 75 percent of all those diagnosed with mesothelioma are male, however, this is likely due to the fact that the industries where asbestos exists are typically male-dominated—construction work, shipbuilding, auto repair, and among U.S. veterans. About one in three of those diagnosed with mesothelioma are veterans, due to widespread asbestos use in all branches of the military.
No level of asbestos exposure is considered safe, however, mesothelioma cancer generally results from years of continuous exposure to asbestos. The loved ones of those who work with asbestos are also at risk, as asbestos fibers can cling to hair, tools, and uniforms to be carried into the home. Asbestos has been restricted or banned in 50 nations, however, the United States has not banned the use of asbestos and still imports asbestos for use in some commercial products.
Once asbestos fibers are disturbed, they become airborne, then are ingested or inhaled where they travel to the ends of the small airways and become trapped in the lining of the lung and chest walls. When those inhaled asbestos fibers are coughed up and swallowed, the fibers can cause mesothelioma in the abdominal lining.
What About the EPA and FDA? In 1989, the EPA attempted to ban all products that contained asbestos, using the Toxic Substances Control Act, yet two years later the ban was overturned by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The effect of this court decision resulted in the EPA only being able to ban products that were new uses of asbestos, although the 1973 ban on fireproofing and insulation applied via spray, the 1975 ban on installation of block and pipe insulation containing asbestos like hot water tanks and boilers, and the 1977 ban of wall-patching compounds and artificial embers remained in effect.
Thirty years after the EPA’s ban was overturned the EPA made a “final” ruling regarding asbestos use that prevents discontinued asbestos products from reintroduction into commerce without an EPA evaluation. No new use of asbestos is allowed unless the EPA conducts a thorough review of the product in question and all products that remained banned under the 1989 action stayed the same.
The FDA only has control over food and drugs, and no authority over cosmetics. This includes talcum powder which may have asbestos fibers because powder is classified under cosmetics. The only time the FDA can get involved in harmful cosmetics is when the cosmetic contains a contaminant that could render it harmful, or when it is improperly labeled or handled. The FDA primarily relies on self-reporting by the cosmetic industry regarding product safety, therefore, it relied on the word of the manufacturers of talcum-based baby powder until recently when it conducted its own tests.
Are There Legal Remedies for Mesothelioma Caused by Asbestos Exposure? If you or a loved one have developed mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure, it could be extremely beneficial for you to contact an experienced mesothelioma attorney from Sullo & Sullo. There are many options that could be right for you, but it is impossible to know which legal avenue is right for you without speaking to a top mesothelioma lawyer who has experience helping people in your situation.