In the past, mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases have been predominantly diagnosed in men. This is because asbestos exposure occurs most frequently in the workplace, in industries like shipbuilding, automotive repair, and construction. Now, experts are predicting that women will be suffering a larger proportion of asbestos-related illnesses. Mesothelioma attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm explore how this could be.
Although asbestos is a known human carcinogen, and there has been a global attempt to ban the substance completely, it is still legal to use in the United States. Several attempts were made in the 1970s and 80s to outlaw asbestos from manufacturing, however, the asbestos industry lobbied the government until it gave in. Thanks to the deep pockets of asbestos lobbyists and the EPA’s failure to protect the public, asbestos is still used in U.S. manufacturing processes.
Today, the substance is used in the making of roofing and insulation materials, car brakes, automatic transmission components and vinyl floor tiles. Asbestos exposure – in any amount – can lead to debilitating and fatal diseases like lung cancer, asbestosis, and mesothelioma.
Why are Women at Risk?
The health effects of asbestos are proven and well-researched; however, the social, psychological, and economic impacts are far less known. Mesothelioma patients are often given less than one year to live, and social isolation is common among families trying to cope. Those in more rural areas are particularly susceptible to isolation, as they have less access to formal support groups and mesothelioma-specific treatment centers.
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The reason women are expected to make up a large proportion of asbestos-related disease patients is because of the shift of workforce. As stated, asbestos exposure traditionally occurred in blue-collar jobs, in which employees were predominantly men. Now, as more and more women gain manufacturing jobs, they too are vulnerable to workplace exposure.
Mesothelioma has also been reported in women employed as school teachers, who worked in buildings containing asbestos; in interior designers, who were exposed through spray-on asbestos insulation; and bakers, who were exposed by being around ovens and other heat-resistant products.
Fortunately, overall, women tend to have better prognoses compared to men, meaning that their expected outcomes are slightly better. This is because women tend to respond more favorably to treatments. One recent study concluded that women with mesothelioma lived longer after surgery than their male counterparts (27 months for women, 16 months for men).
At present, most women diagnosed with mesothelioma were exposed in ‘second-hand’ exposure. This type of asbestos exposure occurs when someone works around asbestos and brings home loose fibers on their work clothing (jackets, boots, bags, etc). Those in the family, such as wives or children, are then consequently exposed to the carcinogen, which can ultimately cause asbestos-related illnesses. For the same reason, women working in laundry services could be similarly exposed.
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Many women and children diagnosed with mesothelioma through second-hand exposure have filed and successfully won lawsuits against the companies their loved ones worked for. These types of plaintiffs enjoy success in the courts because companies that use asbestos are fully aware – and have been for years – that the substance causes serious, life-threatening disease in those exposed. Despite this knowledge, they continue to use the substance without warning workers of the potential long-term consequences.
Of course, each case is unique, and the outcome of a plaintiff’s lawsuit depends on the circumstances of that person’s exposure and illness. Our mesothelioma lawyers are here to answer any questions you may have regarding asbestos exposure or filing a lawsuit against an employer. We provide free, confidential, no-obligation legal consultations to victims of asbestos exposure and their families in every state.