Compassionate Mesothelioma Attorneys in Chicago
Asbestos Exposure Lawyers Representing Clients Nationwide
A mesothelioma diagnosis is an overwhelming and devastating experience. Malignant mesothelioma is a rare and incurable type of cancer caused only by exposure to asbestos. Approximately 1.3 million employees in construction and general industry have faced significant asbestos exposure at some point on the job. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed, consult a mesothelioma attorney right away. Our team at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm has three decades of experience in fighting asbestos companies and will help you and your family every step of the way.
Learn more about mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses:
- Four types of mesothelioma
- Mesothelioma symptoms & diagnosis
- Mesothelioma treatment centers
- Jobs with the highest risk of mesothelioma
- Employers involved in mesothelioma cases
- Asbestos overview
- Products containing asbestos
- Map of naturally-occurring asbestos deposits
What Is Asbestos?
The term "asbestos" refers to a number of naturally occurring mineral fibers. These fibers are strong, durable, poor conductors of electricity, and heat resistant. Because of these properties, asbestos was widely used in manufacturing and construction through the mid-1970s. Although the use of asbestos was first regulated in the 1970s by the U.S. government, its use continued in asbestos cement products, automotive brakes, and gaskets into the 1990s.
Asbestos has been used in consumer products, such as:
- Baby powder and talcum powder
- Cigarette filters
- Hair dryers
- Crock pots
- Coffee pots
- Popcorn poppers
- Potting soil
Most asbestos exposure victims are industrial and construction workers, but asbestos fibers can travel home on workers' clothing and affect family members as well. Children and spouses of industrial workers can develop mesothelioma, lung cancer or asbestosis from exposure in the household. This is known as secondhand, take-home, or household exposure.
Asbestos Causes Mesothelioma, Lung Cancer & Other Life-Threatening Illnesses
Exposure to asbestos can lead to the following health conditions:
- Asbestosis occurs when inhaled asbestos fibers are trapped inside the lungs. The body produces an acid in an attempt to dissolve these fibers, which causes scarring around the lung tissue. Eventually, this scarring becomes so severe that it disrupts lung function. The latency period - or amount of time between inhalation and diagnosis - for developing asbestosis is estimated at 25 to 40 years.
- Lung cancer is an illness characterized by uncontrolled growth in the lung tissue. The most common symptoms are shortness of breath, coughing, and weight loss. Smoking increases the risk of lung cancer in people who have been exposed to asbestos, but lung cancer can affect anyone. Even former or present smokers may be eligible for a lung cancer claim.
- Mesothelioma is cancer of the mesothelium-the lining around the heart, chest, abdomen, heart and testicles that produces fluid to cushion and protect the organs as they move against each other. Each year approximately 3,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma. This is an aggressive and deadly form of cancer divided into four types based on what part of the mesothelium shows cancer growth.
- Head & Neck Cancers along with esophageal, throat, and thyroid cancer can all be caused or worsened by exposure to asbestos. Head and neck cancer describes a number of malignant tumors that develop in or around the throat, mouth, larynx, nose and sinuses.
Types of Mesothelioma
The three most common types of mesothelioma are:
- Pleural mesothelioma occurs in the pleura, or the lining of the lungs. This is the most common form of mesothelioma accounting for 80-85% of diagnoses. It causes fluid and tumors in the lungs that restrict – and, in advanced stages, cut off – breathing. Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include shortness of breath; weight loss; difficulty swallowing; painful coughing; chest pain under the rib cage; and pleural effusion, which is a buildup of fluid in the lungs or chest.
- Peritoneal mesothelioma occurs in the lining of the abdominal cavity and is typically caused by swallowing asbestos fibers, but can also result from lymph nodes circulating the fibers. Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma often include abdominal pain or swelling; weight loss; bowel obstruction; and lumps of tissue in the abdomen.
- Pericardial mesothelioma occurs in the lining of the heart. This is the rarest form of mesothelioma. Symptoms include chest pain or a "tight" feeling near the heart; persistent cough; weight loss; and an irregular breathing pattern or heartbeat, especially during exercise or exertion.
Who Has Been Exposed to Asbestos?
As mentioned, those in the construction and industrial industries are considered most at risk-although everyone has been exposed to some amount of asbestos in his or her lifetime. Most people diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness were exposed on a regular basis, usually on the job. Asbestos was widely used in a variety of industries, from oil refineries to railways. It was used in thousands of products, and is still used in some construction materials. Asbestos materials remain in many buildings, ships, and automobiles today.
Health risks from asbestos increase with longer and heavier exposure. The industries most associated with asbestos-related illnesses are:
- Automotive - Asbestos is still used in clutches and brake pads. Until the 1970s, asbestos was widely used in transmission components, electric motor components, and heat-protective products. Asbestos materials remain in many automobiles built before 1975.
- Military - Asbestos was used throughout all branches of the military, but was most prevalent on ships and in Navy yards.
- Construction - Asbestos was extensively used in construction, from ceiling and floor tiles to joint compounds and cements. Exposure is likely among demolition workers, drywall removers, and do-it-yourself enthusiasts.
- Commercial and industrial sites - This includes power plants, steel mills, textile factories, chemical plants, and oil refineries.
- Shipbuilding - Asbestos was an ideal material for the shipbuilding industry, used everywhere from boilers to galleys.
- Mining and milling - United States consumption of asbestos peaked in 1973, with hundreds of mining operations throughout the country. One mine continued operation until 2002.
Secondhand exposure can also cause asbestos-related illnesses. Workers who were heavily exposed to asbestos often brought home asbestos dust on their clothing, skin, shoes, and hair. Because of this, their families face an increased risk of mesothelioma.
The second-most common occupation among mesothelioma patients who passed away in 1999 was "homemaker/housewife," according to federal data. This alarming statistic proves that families of workers are extremely vulnerable to inadvertently inhaling asbestos fibers. There is no safe level of asbestos exposure; even minor or few incidents of secondhand exposure can cause serious illness.
Contact an Experienced Mesothelioma Lawyer You Can Trust
Many people with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related cancers mistakenly believe that the asbestos companies did not know their products caused cancer until it became newsworthy in the 1970s. In fact, there is evidence that manufacturers of asbestos products knew as early as the 1930's that workers were at risk for lung cancer and mesothelioma from asbestos exposure.
With over five decades of combined experience, Pintas & Mullins Law Firm has extensive knowledge about many types of toxic substance cases, especially asbestos exposure. Our team of Illinois lung cancer attorneys has a vast database of companies, products, occupations, and sites that used asbestos across the country. We can find the source of your exposure for you, so you can focus on your health. We are prepared to ensure that you receive the best representation and the largest settlement possible.
If you or a loved one has suffered from asbestos exposure, contact us today at (800) 639-5333. We can provide you with a free no-obligation consultation and travel directly to you.
- National Cancer Institute: Mesothelioma - Visit this link on the National Cancer Institute's website to learn more about mesothelioma. The National Cancer Institute is part of the United States National Institutes of Health.
- National Cancer Institute: Asbestos Exposure and Cancer Risk - Visit this website to learn more about asbestos exposure and cancer risk.