Although asbestos, which is a naturally occurring silicate mineral, is well known for its ability to resist heat, absorb sound, and resist chemical and electrical damage, the inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause many serious illnesses that include mesothelioma, malignant lung cancer, and asbestosis.
These dangers have been known by manufacturers and insurance companies for more than 100 years. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics published a report in 1910 that focused on the unusually early demise of workers in the asbestos industry.
In 1934 Aetna Insurance, in their “Attorney’s Textbook of Medicine”, noted that asbestosis was incurable. When writing about the course of the disease they noted that death typically followed a period of disability.
Over the ensuing decades documents from widely known companies in the asbestos industry began to surface. These documents indicated that industry was well aware that the inhalation of asbestos fibers often caused asbestosis and lung cancer. They were well aware that it was often followed by death caused by these diseases.
The US government began to get involved in the 1970s. They established guidelines and directed the public’s attention to the harmful side effects related to asbestos exposure. The government started to mandate that companies in the asbestos industry provide gear that would protect their employees.
But even though there was negative press few people were paying attention. An asbestos industry expert made a prediction in 1973 that 25,000 asbestos industry workers would die of diseases related to asbestos. The expert commented that “Very few people had been paying attention.”
Consequently, in 1977, the insurance industry decided to “stonewall” any charges being made against them or the companies they insured.
They denied their responsibility for paying for asbestos related illnesses.
In 1977 these companies had a meeting to discuss asbestosis. Their unanimous decision was to not admit any liability whatsoever. Events and agreements such as these were part and parcel of the insurance industry for the next twenty years.
And even today, with all the information available that incontrovertibly proves that exposure to asbestos can cause life threatening diseases, asbestos still isn’t banned in the United States.
It is still used in products such as automobile brake pads and shoes, gaskets, roofing tars, countertops, joint and drywall compounds, plaster, vinyl floor tiles, adhesives, and much, much more.
Companies that produce these products can be held responsible for causing asbestos related illnesses. If you or a member of your family has been exposed to asbestos or was diagnosed with asbestosis or mesothelioma because a company disregarded employee safety then you might want them to pay for the consequences of their actions.
Mesothelioma lawsuits can result in substantial settlements that could help to cover the loss of income and the high costs of medical care of people who suffer from an asbestos related disease.