Asbestos refers to a group of minerals that naturally occur in the environment and contain silicone and oxygen atoms in their molecular structure.
In simple terms, they are fibers which can be separated into threads which are fire, heat and chemical resistant and do not conduct electricity.
These attributes made asbestos use very popular, and it quickly became the insulator of choice in many industries.
Two Groups of Asbestos Minerals
According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), asbestos minerals are generally divided into two specific groups – serpentine and amphibole.
- Serpentine. Serpentine asbestos includes chrysotile, a mineral with long, curly fibers which can be woven. Chrysotile asbestos is used in 95 percent of commercial applications in the United States and is commonly linked to mesothelioma, asbestosis and other asbestos-related diseases.
- Amphibole. Amphibole asbestos includes actinolite, tremolite, anthophyllite, crocidolite and amosite minerals. These generally have straight, needle-like fibers that are brittle; however, they are not generally used in fabrication.
Asbestos has been mined in the United States and Canada since the late 1800s; however, its popularity surged during World War II when it was used in the shipbuilding industry to insulate boilers, steam pipes and hot water pipes. Other industries began to use asbestos during that time as well. It quickly became a staple in the automotive industry to make brake pads and clutch disks; in the construction industry as a home and building insulator; and commercially to strengthen cement and plastics, fabricate roofing, ceilings, flooring tiles and paints. It was also used in many household and garden products.
In the early 1900s, researchers began to realize that an increasing number of Americans were dying from lung diseases in asbestos mining towns. Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have died from the use of, or exposure to, asbestos and asbestos products.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned all new uses of asbestos in 1989. However, millions of Americans continue to be exposed to asbestos fibers every day, as it is still present in many homes, commercial buildings and products.
Asbestos Dormancy Period
Mesothelioma and asbestosis diseases and symptoms can have a very long dormancy period – up to 50 years after exposure. Symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath and weight loss are often not treated seriously or are misdiagnosed, as they can relate to a variety of illnesses. For many victims, diagnosis simply comes too late.
If you or a family member has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you should understand your legal options. Compensation may be available. Our injury lawyers in Charleston, Myrtle Beach and Clinton are here to help. Call Joye Law Firm at (888) 324-3100 or fill out a free online consultation form.