Asbestos is a group of naturally occurring minerals used in certain commercial products, such as building materials and vehicle brakes, to resist heat and corrosion. Asbestos is inexpensive and effective, but can cause serious health problems in humans who are exposed to it. If inhaled, asbestos can lead to asbestosis, mesothelioma, and different types of cancer.
Although the dangers of asbestos have been known to the scientific and medical communities for several decades, manufacturers continue to use asbestos in their products to this day. Asbestos is present in millions of older homes, schools, and office buildings in the United States.
If you or a loved one developed serious health problems as a result of asbestos exposure, our experienced Houston asbestos attorneys may be able to help. To speak with a lawyer about your asbestos case, contact Sutliff & Stout today. We offer all potential clients a free and confidential consultation.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a heat-resistant silicate material that is fibrous in form. It can be woven into fabrics, and is often used in insulating and fire-resistant materials such as roofing materials, flooring materials, thermal insulation, and acoustic insulation.
There are six different minerals that are defined by the United States Environmental Protection Agency as asbestos, including:
- Chrysotile: The most commonly used type of asbestos, chrysotile can be found in roofs, ceilings, walls, and floors of homes, schools, and businesses. Chrysotile asbestos is also used in motor vehicle components such as brake linings, gaskets, and seals.
- Tremolite: Tremolite can be found as a contaminant in chrysotile asbestos, vermiculite, and talc powders. It was occasionally used in certain insulation products, paints, sealants and roofing materials. Tremolite can be white, green, gray, or even transparent.
- Amosite: Also known as brown asbestos, amphibole originates in Africa. It can be found in cement sheet and pipe insulation, as well as insulating board, ceiling tiles, and thermal insulation products. It has needle-like fibers.
- Crocidolite: This blue asbestos is known for its ability to resist heat. It is mined primarily in South Africa, Bolivia, and Australia, and is widely considered the most dangerous type of asbestos. Crocidolite can be found in some spray-on coatings, pipe insulation, and cement products.
- Anthophyllite: Gray-brown in color, anthophyllite originates from Finland. It was most commonly found in composite flooring, and is no longer used commercially (though it may still be found as a contaminant).
- Actinolite: This mineral has a harsh texture and is not as flexible a other types of asbestos. It is most often found in metamorphic rock. Actinolite was never used commercially, but it can be found as a contaminant in some asbestos products.
Asbestos Causes Health Problems
When the fibers from asbestos become airborne and are inhaled, they can cause serious health issues. This is because of the small size of asbestos fibers, which the lungs cannot expel. These fibers are sharp and can penetrate tissues.
There are many health problems attributed to asbestos, including:
- Asbestosis: Asbestosis is scarring of the lung tissue caused by acid produced by the body in an attempt to dissolve asbestos fibers. Sometimes, the scarring can become so severe that the lungs no longer function. This deadly disease can have a latency period of 10-20 years, meaning that someone can contract the disease but not show signs of it for nearly two decades.
- Mesothelioma: Mesothelioma is a cancer of the mesothelial lining of the lungs and the chest cavity, abdominal cavity, and the pericardium (a sac surrounding the heart). Unlike lung cancer, mesothelioma is not associated with tobacco use. It is caused by exposure to asbestos or similar fibers. The latency period for mesothelioma can be 20-50 years, and most patients die within a few years of being diagnosed.
- Cancer:Asbestos can cause lung cancer, as well as cancer of the gastrointestinal tract, kidney, and larynx. The latency period for cancer is often 15–30 years.
- Diffuse pleural thickening: Also known as DPT, diffuse pleural thickening is a lung disease in which extensive scarring thickens the thin membrane that covers the lungs (called the pleura). As the scar tissue grows, it can close off the space between the lungs and the pleura. This condition can cause chest pain and extreme difficulty breathing.
There are many other diseases that have been linked to asbestos exposure. Your doctor or an experienced asbestos attorney can help you better understand whether your health problems are a result of asbestos.
Exposure to Asbestos
People who worked in industries where asbestos was prevalent are at the greatest risk for contracting an asbestos-related illness. Construction workers, ship builders, metal workers, and miners who were employed prior to the establishment of federal laws regulating appropriate levels of asbestos have developed asbestos-related diseases at a much higher rate than the general population.
If you or a loved one was exposed to asbestos in the workplace or another setting and developed heath issues, you may be entitled to money damages for the losses your family suffered. Asbestos lawsuits are commonplace and have yielded settlements and verdicts in courts across the country.
Because of the nature of the claims involved in an asbestos lawsuit, you should hire an attorney with experience in asbestos litigation. At Sutliff & Stout, our Houston asbestos lawyers help families in the area seek justice through the civil courts.
To speak with an asbestos lawyer at our firm, contact us today. For a free and confidential consultation, call (713) 987-7111.
Houston Asbestos Lawyers
If you developed health issues after being exposed to asbestos, an asbestos attorney may be able to help. Sutliff & Stout offer our Houston clients years of experience handling legal claims regarding lung diseases and asbestos exposure. Follow the link below to schedule a consultation with an asbestos litigation attorney.