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How Did I Get Mesothelioma?

If you have been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma it means that at some point in your life you were exposed to asbestos.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring silicate mineral. Its use dates back to the Stone Age, when it was used to strengthen ceramic pots. Its ability to withstand flame and heat while being flexible enough to be incorporated into cloth made it a popular component in Ancient Egypt and Greece. It was also a ubiquitous element of the Industrial Revolution, when it was used in numerous construction applications as well as in industrial settings, transportation, and manufacturing.

In the United States, asbestos reached the peak of its popularity in the years following World War II, when its use was expanded into shipbuilding and military applications.

Though asbestos is inexpensive, plentiful, and useful, it is also a deadly carcinogen. As long ago as 1899 medical professionals began documenting lung disease in workers exposed to asbestos. Early deaths were noted in asbestos mining towns, and an autopsy conducted in the year 1900 on a textile mill worker identified asbestos fibers in the man’s lungs.

By 1924 the term asbestosis began to be used to describe lung scarring caused by exposure to the material, and the term mesothelioma was first used in 1931, though it took until the 1940s for it to be specifically associated with exposure to asbestos.

In the years since, a great deal has been learned about how asbestos causes malignant mesothelioma. The physical characteristics that make asbestos flexible also lead to it breaking down easily into tiny fibers that are easily inhaled or ingested and that — once inside the body — are difficult to expel.

The breakdown of asbestos comes with age, as well as with materials containing asbestos being manipulated, cut, or in any way disturbed – the type of activities that are constant in manufacturing, construction, demolition, and other workplace environments.

Though malignant mesothelioma is the deadliest illness associated with exposure to asbestos, the mineral has been linked to several other serious illnesses and malignancies. In fact, there are records of asbestos-related illnesses dating back to Ancient Rome, when slave owners were advised never to purchase asbestos quarry slaves because they so frequently died young of a variety of lung ailments. Today we know that exposure to asbestos is linked to:

  • Distinguished from malignant pleural mesothelioma because the tumors form within the lung itself
  • Asbestosis – A chronic disease in which scarring forms in the lung tissue, making it progressively difficult to breathe
  • Interstitial fibrosis – An umbrella term for over 200 chronic lung diseases and disorders characterized by scarring of the tissue between the air sacs in the lungs
  • Cancer of the gastrointestinal tract, kidney, larynx, oropharynx, or ovaries
  • Pleural effusions – A buildup of fluid in the lung lining leading to chest pain, coughing, difficulty breathing and a high risk of a collapsed lung
  • Pleural plaques – A build-up of calcium-based material within the lining of the lungs

Over the years a great deal has been learned about the use of asbestos and how exposure leads to malignant mesothelioma, but one of the most disturbing aspects has been the discovery that owners of companies that used the material were aware of its dangers and chose to keep the information a secret.

In failing to warn the public of asbestos’ dangers, they exposed countless individuals to potential illness and robbed families of loved ones.

How To Get Assistance if You’ve Been Diagnosed with Mesothelioma

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, call The Halpern Law Firm at (800) 505-6000. We have over 30 years of experience in helping mesothelioma victims recover compensation for their injuries. Reach out to us today.

Page Reviewed and Edited by
Dave Halpern, Mesothelioma Attorney

Dave Halpern is a Pennsylvania and New Jersey mesothelioma attorney with over 30 years of experience. He has investigated hundreds of cases and won numerous multimillion dollar settlements and verdicts for asbestos victims. Dave prides himself on working tirelessly to help his clients in their time of need. 

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