What is Mesothelioma? Repeated exposure to asbestos fibers can result in a rare but deadly cancer that forms in the lining of the lungs or the lining of the abdomen. In exceptionally rare cases, mesothelioma tumors can grow in the lining of the heart or the lining of the testes. The survival rate for malignant mesothelioma once the disease is diagnosed is low, although the patient’s prognosis may be improved when a mesothelioma specialist is consulted.
Treatment typically includes surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. According to recent statistical data, only about 3,000 Americans are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year. There is no other known cause of mesothelioma other than exposure to asbestos. About three-quarters of all mesothelioma victims are male, likely due to the specific professions where asbestos typically exists.
These professions include industrial occupations like construction work, automobile repair, and shipbuilding, as well as those who are U.S. military veterans (Asbestos was widely used in each branch of the military, resulting in one in three U.S. veterans accounting for a full one-third of all mesothelioma diagnoses).
Anyone who comes into contact with asbestos can develop mesothelioma cancer, regardless of how often they were exposed, but it is much more common for those exposed continuously to asbestos over a number of years to be diagnosed with mesothelioma. Even the loved ones of those who worked with asbestos can develop mesothelioma since the microscopic fibers can cling to hair, tools, and uniforms and be carried home.
How Does Asbestos Cause Mesothelioma? Asbestos is a set of six naturally occurring silicate materials that were once used widely but have now been restricted or banned in many jurisdictions. Asbestos fibers added strength, flexibility, and heat and fire resistance to products, and, in fact, the literal meaning of asbestos is indestructible or inextinguishable. The United States still imports asbestos for use in certain commercial products. When asbestos fibers are disturbed, the fibers become airborne then are ingested or inhaled.
The microscopic fibers that are inhaled travel to the ends of the small airways, entering the pleural, then becoming trapped in the lining of the lung and chest walls. When inhaled asbestos fibers are coughed up then swallowed, the fibers can cause peritoneal mesothelioma that forms in the lining of the abdomen. In either case, over time, these fibers will damage the surrounding tissues, and, in some cases, they will cause the formation of cancerous tumors.
While research has found certain factors that may increase a person’s risk of developing mesothelioma, it is not yet clear how all these factors interact with one another. All types of cancer—including mesothelioma—develop when a cell’s DNA is damaged. Changes in genes that control when cells in the body grow, divide and die, can cause the cells to grow quickly, developing into cancer. At least eight out of ten people with mesothelioma have been exposed to asbestos fibers, yet many people exposed to asbestos—even large amounts—will not develop mesothelioma. Some studies have even linked the use of radiation for other types of cancers to mesothelioma since radiation damages the cells’ DNA.
What Do the EPA and FDA Say About Mesothelioma? In 1973, the EPA banned asbestos-containing materials used for fireproofing and insulating that were applied via spray. Two years later, the EPA banned the installation of block and pipe insulation containing asbestos, commonly used in hot water tanks and boilers. The EPA specified that asbestos was banned in these applications when it was molded or friable or applied wet then turning friable after it dries. In 1977, the EPA banned the use of asbestos used in wall-patching compounds and artificial fireplace embers, then the next year asbestos in spray-applied surface materials for any not banned in 1973 was banned.
More than a decade later, in 1989, the EPA attempted to ban virtually all products that contained asbestos by using the Toxic Substances Control Act. In 1991, this ban was overturned by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. This resulted in the EPA’s 1989 regulation banning only products with new uses of asbestos. A “final” rule was made by the EPA in 2019 that prevents discontinued asbestos products from reintroduction into commerce without an evaluation by the EPA. This 2019 EPA rule included:
- Protection of the public from asbestos that is no longer on the market and is not covered under other regulations or laws
- No new use of asbestos is allowed unless the EPA conducts a thorough review of the product
- Asbestos products banned under the 1989 ban remain banned.
Products containing asbestos that was banned in 2019 include missile liners, packings, millboard, friction materials, high-grade electrical paper, extruded sealant tape, filler for acetylene cylinders, cement products, beater-add gaskets, adhesives, roof-coatings, arc chutes, pipeline wrap, certain other building products, woven products, reinforced plastics, roofing felt, vinyl-asbestos floor tile, and separators in fuel cells and batteries.
The FDA protects Americans from potentially harmful substances we put into our bodies, including OTC medications, prescription medications, and food. The FDA does not, however, regulate cosmetics—and talcum-based baby powder, potentially containing asbestos, are classified as cosmetics. The only time the FDA can get involved in harmful cosmetics is when the cosmetic contains a contaminant that could make it harmful, or the cosmetic is improperly handled or improperly labeled.
So, while the FDA does not approve marketed cosmetics, under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act, the agency does have the authority to request a voluntary recall of a dangerous cosmetic product. The FDA primarily relies on the cosmetic industry to self-report on the safety of a product, including talcum-based baby powder. So, rather than conducting its own tests, the FDA relied on the word of the manufacturers of talcum-based baby powder until recently.
The FDA independently tested 11 different talcum powder-containing cosmetics, resulting in the recall of 33,000 containers of J & J baby powder with talc. Despite this, as of January 2020, the FDA had not issued warnings regarding potential asbestos contamination in J & J talcum powder or other talc-containing cosmetics. What the FDA will say is that no level of asbestos is safe and that it will “encourage” recalls of cosmetics when asbestos is found.
What Legal Remedies Are There for a Mesothelioma Claim? If you have developed mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure, it could be extremely beneficial for you to contact an experienced mesothelioma lawyer and file an asbestos lawsuit. There are mesothelioma cancer lawyers waiting to help you through the process. There are a number of legal mesothelioma options that could be right for you, however, it is impossible to know which legal avenue is best for you without speaking to the best mesothelioma lawyers—those that have significant experience helping people just like you.
Top mesothelioma lawyers help victims of asbestos exposure receive financial compensation for medical treatments, lost wages, and other expenses. This compensation can be accessed through mesothelioma lawsuits, VA benefits, asbestos trust fund claims, and more. An experienced lung cancer lawyer can provide the legal assistance you need, allowing you to pursue compensation and justice. The two primary legal options available to victims of asbestos exposure include:
- Mesothelioma Lawsuits—Filing an asbestos lawsuit with the assistance of top mesothelioma lawyers. Victims of asbestos-related cancers and other illnesses can access mesothelioma law to seek financial compensation from the manufacturers of asbestos-containing products by filing a mesothelioma lawsuit. Manufacturers were aware of the dangers of asbestos yet kept using it as a method of making money.
- Mesothelioma Trust Fund Claims—Mesothelioma victims are entitled to compensation for wrongful asbestos exposure to cover their medical costs, recover lost wages, and connect with top specialists in mesothelioma. Surviving family members of mesothelioma victims may also be entitled to compensation, as well as veterans who developed mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure in the military. Examples of these mesothelioma trust fund claims include:
- U.S. Gypsum—$4.4 billion for shipyard workers, construction workers, and steelworkers
- Johns-Manville Corporation—$2.5 billion for shipyard workers, bricklayers, electricians, and machinists
- Armstrong World Industry—$2.1 billion for plant workers, fabrication, and construction workers
- Owens Corning Fiberboard—$1.6 billion for janitors, architects, and construction workers
There are many more trust funds that could be applicable for you or a loved one who has developed mesothelioma following asbestos exposure. Your asbestos lawyers can assist you in finding the best trust fund for you or advise you if a more typical lawsuit is the better option. Other ways to receive compensation for asbestos-related mesothelioma include: Medicare, Medicaid, SSDI, and VA benefits. Victims may be able to access more than one type of compensation—talk to your mesothelioma lawyer about your options.
How Can an Experienced Mesothelioma Attorney from Sullo & Sullo Help? While receiving money from an asbestos trust fund may be the most common type of mesothelioma legal assistance, an attorney from Sullo & Sullo can help you determine if this is the best course of action for you. Mesothelioma lawsuits can sometime reach out-of-court settlements with values of $1 million or more. Our attorneys are highly experienced negotiators who will fight to ensure you receive the best settlement possible. The legal assistance we can offer those with asbestos-related mesothelioma is extensive.
We will fight to ensure you receive the necessary assistance with your medical bills since mesothelioma treatments can cost more than half a million dollars each year. We will seek compensation for medical treatments, lost wages, and other expenses including therapy and funeral costs. At Sullo & Sullo, we will help you send a message through your mesothelioma lawsuit that manufacturers cannot get away with the harm they have caused. Contact Sullo & Sullo as quickly as possible following your mesothelioma diagnosis—the sooner you take legal action, the less time you will wait to receive compensation.