October 22, 2022 By Alex Garcia

Asbestos Use in the United States

Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous silicate mineral that can be manufactured into durable threads. It began being mined in North America in the late 1800s. For years, asbestos was praised for its flame-retardant, chemical-resistant, and nonconductive properties. Its popularity skyrocketed during World War II when it was used as an insulator on naval vessels. Soon, other industries took notice, and asbestos use spread across numerous industries. 

Use of Asbestos in the United States

Unfortunately, widespread asbestos use proved problematic because breathing in asbestos fibers can cause mesothelioma. This form of cancer affects the mesothelial linings of the lungs, abdomen, and heart. About 3,000 Americans are diagnosed with this condition each year, even though asbestos has all but disappeared from modern residential applications. Why is this? 

Asbestos has a Prolonged Latency Period 

The time from asbestos exposure to the onset of symptoms, known as the latency period, can be 10 to 50 years. This explains why asbestos was used for decades before being recognized as a health hazard. It also explains why people continue to be diagnosed with mesothelioma despite modern safety regulations. 

Doctors Often Misdiagnosis Mesothelioma 

Many symptoms of asbestos-related diseases—including chest and back pain, flu-like symptoms, shortness of breath, and fatigue—may appear to be other less serious health issues. For this reason, many victims don’t discover they have asbestos cancer until the late stages of the disease. Sadly, most mesothelioma patients pass away four to 18 months after diagnosis

Old Asbestos is Still out There 

Millions of older homes, vehicles, and commercial buildings in the United States contain asbestos. While undisturbed products aren’t hazardous, asbestos fibers can enter the air when products are moved or damaged. This means activities such as building renovation and demolition can expose people to asbestos. 

Many Uses of Asbestos are Still Legal 

In the 1960s and early 1970s, studies began linking asbestos exposure to certain diseases, including mesothelioma and lung cancer. Most home builders stopped using asbestos products by the 1980s, and the EPA attempted a complete ban in 1989. 

Unfortunately, fierce backlash from asbestos manufacturers resulted in the ban being overturned. A partial ban remains for certain products, including many used in the construction industry, but numerous applications for asbestos remain legal to this day. 

Industries and Occupations at Risk for Mesothelioma 

If you work or have worked in any of the following industries, you could be at risk for mesothelioma: 

  • Shipbuilding and repair 
  • Automotive manufacturing and maintenance 
  • Pipefitting and insulation work 
  • Construction and demolition work 
  • Textile manufacturing 
  • Mining and railroad work 
  • Aerospace and aeronautics 
  • Blacksmithing 
  • Firefighting 
  • Electrical and mechanical work 

Did Your Job Cause You to Contract Mesothelioma? 

Vogelzang Law is a personal injury law firm dedicated to representing mesothelioma victims nationwide. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases, you could be entitled to compensation. Call (888) 249-4834 or contact our law office in Chicago, IL, or Grand Rapids, MI, to learn how we can help you fight for justice.