Critical Issues for Seniors: Asbestos and Mesothelioma

Nov 9th, 2014 | By | Category: Senior Moments Blog

How Asbestos Exposure Affects Senior Citizens

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), around 3,000 people are diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases each year. A good majority of these people are ages 60 and older. Senior citizens are at a heightened risk of developing mesothelioma and other asbestos diseases for numerous reasons, but it’s never too late to understand how these life-threatening diseases occur and what you can do if you’ve been affected by asbestos.

The Long Use of Asbestos

Asbestos is a group of minerals that naturally-occur all over the world. The use of asbestos by humans dates back to the B.C. ages, when it was used as wicks for lights and candles. During the 1920s, however, businesses began using asbestos for its fire and heat-resistant properties, as well for its strong insulation features.

Although asbestos was useful in many industries, it’s also extremely dangerous if ingested or inhaled. Asbestos fibers are thin, odorless, and undetectable. When these fibers become airborne, they are easily ingested or inhaled, and although some fibers are released from the body through coughing, it’s impossible for the body to expel all of them. After a while, the fibers start attacking the body’s major organs, resulting in life-threatening diseases such as malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis, and asbestos-related lung cancer.

After extensive research, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) placed strict regulations on asbestos use in the late 1970s. However, a myriad of people had already been exposed to the harmful effects of asbestos by then.

Retired People Are Affected The Most

As mentioned earlier, senior citizens are affected the most by asbestos exposure. Per the U.S. National Library of Medicine, that average age of mesothelioma diagnosis is 60. Since asbestos was used in a variety of industries prior to the 1980s, most people who worked around asbestos are now over the age of 55. Asbestos-related illnesses generally have a long dormancy period of between anywhere from 30 to years. Many people are unaware that they even have an asbestos illness until they’ve already retired.

Older Homes and Senior Citizens

The construction industry relied on asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) more than almost any other industry. ACMs were used heavily while constructing residential homes prior to the 1980s, and are still found in old appliances, furnace insulation, vinyl flooring, tiles, roofing shingles, pipes, deck sheeting, stucco, outlets, and more.

Not only were people at risk for asbestos exposure when constructing these homes, but many senior citizens still own and reside in the same houses, townhomes, and condominiums that were built with ACMs. Although asbestos is not as dangerous if not disturbed, simply repairing areas of the home increases the risk of disturbing asbestos fibers.

Nursing Homes and Asbestos

A number of nursing homes that are still in use today were also built with ACMs. In fact, there have been a myriad of people who’ve retained an asbestos attorney and filed a mesothelioma lawsuit in recent years, stemming from an abundance of senior citizens being exposed to asbestos by simply living in nursing homes.

If You or a Loved One Have Been Exposed to Asbestos

Fortunately, state and federal laws recognize that in many instances, the companies that used asbestos to construct homes and make products are responsible for the adverse effects of exposure.  Treatment for asbestos-related illnesses can get extremely costly, and the average person has a difficult time coping with all of the expenses that come along with such hazardous diseases.

If you or a loved one are dealing with an asbestos illness, there is a good chance that you qualify for compensation. In fact, many of the previous lawsuit have resulted in mesothelioma settlements after companies were found to be responsible.

For more information on asbestos and what your legal rights and options are, visit Mesothelioma Lawyer Center.

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