Monthly Archives: January 2011
Malignant mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure. The cancer most commonly develops in the pleura, which is the outer lining of the lungs and the internal chest wall. The disease also may occur in the peritoneum, the lining of the abdominal cavity or other areas of the body.
Shortness of breath, chest wall pain and weight loss are common symptoms of the disease. Although chest x-rays and CT scan can detect the disease, it must be confirmed by a biopsy.
Workers began to be commonly exposed to asbestos in the 1940s and continued to be exposed to the disease into the 1970s. These workers, simply trying to provide for their families were unaware of the dangers of their exposure. In many cases, workers brought the deadly fibers into their homes and unknowingly exposed their families.
Many ask “why are so many older workers being diagnosed with the disease?” The answer is that the symptoms of the disease generally do not appear in its victims until many years after exposure because it takes a very long time for the disease to develop in the human body. This is called a latency period. The latency for mesothelioma is usually decades. They is why those exposed so long ago are only now developing the disease.
The dangers of asbestos were not publicly known for many years, although records indicate that manufacturers knew long before the public. Those who exposed workers and their families to deadly asbestos fibers should be held accountable.
Foss Launch and Tug Company began in 1889. As the years went on, the company grew. The company, among other work, repaired and refurbished vessels. During much of this work, in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, workers were exposed to asbestos containing materials. Asbestos containing materials on boats included insulation, boilers, pipe fittings and gaskets. Unfortunately, exposure to asbestos containing materials can lead to mesothelioma and other asbestos related cancers.
Washington State shipyard workers were extensively exposed to asbestos. One shipyard where workers were exposed to deadly asbestos fibers was Lockheed Shipyard which was located in Seattle near the mouth of the Duwamish River. Lockheed was one of the oldest shipyards in the Pacific Northwest when it closed in 1988. Workers in the shipyard included boilermakers, pipefitters, insulators, welders and dockworkers. Mesothelioma takes decades to develop. Many older and and retired workers have developed the disease. Lockheed constructed naval frigates, transport vessels, icebreakers and various other ships during its operations. Sadly, many workers were exposed to asbestos during their work at the shipya
The Texaco Oil Refinery opened in Anacortes, Washington in 1958. During this time period asbestos containing products were being widely used. Not surprisingly, at the refinery, asbestos containing products such as protective clothing, insulation and gaskets were used at this refinery, as well as, many other refineries across the country. Many workers at the plant were exposed to asbestos containing products. Now, many years after exposure, workers are experiencing the effects of the exposure in such diseases as mesothelioma and other asbestos caused cancers. The long latency period for the development of these diseases is a characteristic of exposure to asbestos. In addition to holding the manufacturers of asbestos containing products accountable, the refinery owners, can also, be held responsible for their knowledge of the dangers of asbestos.
Many innocent shipyard workers were exposed to asbestos at the Kaiser Vancouver Shipyard in Vancouver, Washington. The shipyard was established in 1942 and was instrumental in building naval ships for World War II. These ships included Cargo ships, tank landing vessel and troop transports. At one point, the shipyard employed over 100,000 workers. These workers handled and were around numerous asbestos containing products. Mesothelioma and other asbestos-related cancers have resulted from asbestos exposure at shipyards. After World War II, the shipyard closed, but, the lingering effect of the exposure did not. Mesothelioma is a life-threatening disease in which those exposed to asbestos suffer many years after the exposure.
On Friday, I traveled to the San Juan Islands to meet with some clients. Along the way, I saw many small shipyards and marines where ships, over the years received repairs. Like the large shipyards, asbestos exposure occurred at these types of locations. Workers would get up every morning, put on their boots and head to work to provide for their families. At work, many of these workers were exposed to asbestos fibers and are now suffering the effects. The dangers of asbestos was not known to these workers, although the manufacturers of asbestos containing products knew of the deadly dangers of the product. Workers have suffered from mesothelioma, as well as, other asbestos related cancers.
Although victims of asbestos exposure worked with and around the product many years ago, including up to 40 years ago, we are seeing those suffering from asbestos-related diseases, including Mesothelioma receive significant awards from juries across the country. Recently, a jury in Maryland awarded the family of a man who unloaded bags of asbestos $1.2 million. This man worked hard to provide for his family and was unaware of the dangers of asbestos, although, documents and testimony at trial established that the company responsible for exposing the man to asbestos knew of the dangers. Unfortunately, the worker was unable to see the juries’ justice, as he died before his trial and the verdict. This is all too common for those exposed to asbestos. More and more, juries and handing down justice for the victims of asbestos.