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Asbestos Information

What Is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a fibrous mineral that occurs naturally. For most of the last century, asbestos was mined and used in a variety of household, industrial and building products. Asbestos was used extensively because it is resistant to heat, fire, chemical and biological degradation.

Asbestos is made up of bundles of thin, separable fibers that have parallel arrangement. When asbestos is handled, cut or abraded, these bundles break down into millions of tiny fibers that become airborne. Once the tiny fibers are airborne they are dangerous because they are easily breathed into the lungs. The presence of asbestos fibers in the air can be hard to detect, because the fibers are microscopic and have no odor or taste.

Asbestos was mined extensively in Canada, South Africa, Australia and, to a lesser extent, in California. Asbestos is classified into six types: amosite, chrysotile, crocidolite, tremolite, actinolite and anthophyllite. All forms are hazardous to human health. In the United States the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has banned all new uses of asbestos because of proven health hazards.

Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos fibers are virtually indestructible. Once inhaled, the asbestos fibers can cause respiratory problems, including mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis. Usually it takes at least 15 years from the time someone is exposed to asbestos until they develop mesothelioma, asbestosis or lung cancer. This is called the latent period. In some persons, the latent period may be as long as 60 or more years from first exposure to asbestos.

Although it was no secret among asbestos manufacturers, the harmful effects of mesothelioma were not widely publicized until the early 1970s. Today, asbestos usage is heavily regulated in the United States. Its use has ceased here in all but a few closely monitored products and industries. Unfortunately, the Canadian asbestos mining industry continues to sell its product to developing nations. There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos fibers according to a 1980 study by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), a subsidiary of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). That is, any exposure to asbestos puts one at increased risk of developing an asbestos related disease.

Find out more about the dangers of asbestos exposure.

Asbestos Product Usage in the United States

Asbestos has been a significant player in the construction and manufacturing industries since the late 1800s because it is durable, flexible and strong. It is resistant to wear, chemicals and heat. Thousands of different products were made with asbestos, including:

  • Pipe insulation
  • Insulation on boilers, turbines and other heat–generating industrial equipment
  • Fireproofing, acoustical sprays and stucco
  • Brake pads, clutch pressure plates and other friction products
  • Fireproof textiles
  • Wallboard, joint compounds and wall texture
  • Cement and cement piping
  • Electrical wiring
  • Floor tile and linoleum
  • Insulation in hair dryers and other consumer products
  • Gaskets and packing
  • Laboratory equipment
  • Plastics and phenolic laminates
  • Mud additives used in oil drilling
  • Mold liners used in foundries

Asbestos use became widespread before World War II, and continued to increase until the 1970s. Shipbuilding, plumbing, construction and manufacturing industries used it widely. It was often sawed, cut, ground and sanded, resulting in the release of dangerous microscopic fibers into the air. Asbestos is often mixed with other materials to keep them intact, since the fibers serve as a binding agent. The amount of asbestos used varied from 1% to 100% by weight, depending upon the product involved.

Read more about products containing asbestos.

Why Choose an Asbestos Lawyer

There are many lawyers and attorneys who claim to have the ability to serve clients who have become ill due to asbestos exposure. Many of them are upstanding attorneys representing professional law firms. Unfortunately, not just any attorney can litigate an asbestos claim to successful conclusion. Asbestos law is one of the most complex areas of focus that exist. Without a lawyer or attorney who specializes in asbestos cases, you're facing a tremendous uphill battle in the legal process.

Read more about why you should choose an asbestos lawyer.

Asbestos Lawsuits

Skilled law investigation is often the most significant aspect of building a compelling asbestos lawsuit. Investigators at Clapper, Patti, Schweizer & Mason first interview each client personally to gain basic background information – their work history and length of time on the job, job duties and co-workers. Our team tracks down and interviews important witnesses and puts the evidence together to prove their case.

From the start, our paralegals compile a comprehensive file of information provided by our investigators, physicians and you. This file is an integral part of your case and our paralegals are involved every step of the way.

Learn more about the steps involved in an asbestos lawsuit.

Injured by Asbestos? Call Today.

If you or a loved one has developed mesothelioma or another asbestos related disease, contact the asbestos cancer attorneys at Clapper, Patti, Schweizer & Mason today. Call 415-332-4262 for a free consultation with no obligation.

Our attorneys have been representing families coping with asbestos-related diseases for more than 30 years and have recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for our clients.