By James Parker
August 21, 2022

What Is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a group of naturally occurring minerals composed of flexible fibers. The key appeal of asbestos is that it is resistant to intense heat, electrical currents, and corrosion. Unfortunately, asbestos has also been connected to various health issues, including cancer.

Before the significant dangers of asbestos were known, it was used as a building material and component in thousands of consumer products. These products include cloth, cement, paper, plastic, and other objects that needed increased durability, heat resistance, or insulation.

When products with asbestos wear down, they can release asbestos particles into the air, where they become trapped in the body. Over time, the buildup of asbestos can lead to serious health complications. The most prominent complications from asbestos exposure are lung cancer and the otherwise rare cancer mesothelioma. Additionally, the regular irritation and scarring of asbestos in the lungs can lead to a progressive disease known as asbestosis.

While asbestos is objectively dangerous to human health, it is still present in many buildings and products in the U.S., whether on purpose or by accident. Moreover, while asbestos is regulated in the U.S., it has never been officially banned from sale or distribution.

Key Takeaways

  • Asbestos is a group of flexible minerals with severe carcinogenic properties when exposed to a person over time.
  • There are six recognized forms of asbestos: Actinolite, Amosite, Anthophyllite, Crocidolite, Serpentine, and Tremolite.
  • Asbestos can cause many dangerous health complications ranging from asbestosis to the rare and deadly cancer mesothelioma.
  • If you have been exposed to asbestos and have subsequently developed health complications, including mesothelioma or other forms of cancer, an experienced Personal Injury attorney may be able to improve the outcome of your case by utilizing experience and expert knowledge.

Asbestos and Personal Injury Law

Under the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act of 1986, there are six recognized forms of asbestos:

  • Actinolite
  • Amosite
  • Anthophyllite
  • Crocidolite
  • Chrysotile
  • Tremolite

These six types of asbestos are split into two broad categories: amphibole asbestos and serpentine asbestos.

Amphibole asbestos contains the majority of defined asbestos types. Amphibole minerals are defined as having a straight and jagged shape. The amphibole asbestos category includes Actinolite, Amosite, Anthophyllite, Crocidolite, and Tremolite. Amphibole asbestos is most commonly found in similar veins as talc, which has led to lawsuits related to the contamination of talc cosmetic and hygiene products.

The remaining type of asbestos is serpentine asbestos. Serpentine asbestos only contains one mineral: chrysotile. Chrysotile is a white mineral that forms in curly patterns. 

According to multiple government organizations, there is no safe level of asbestos exposure for any type of asbestos fiber. This is because health complications can develop with only a few days of exposure. Asbestos is heavily regulated by both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The EPA works to contain and eliminate asbestos in the environment including in building materials. OSHA instead works to limit the amount of asbestos that workers are exposed to in their workplaces.

The key industries that are targeted by OSHA for asbestos control are construction, general industry, and shipbuilding. OSHA requires that employers monitor and assess for potential asbestos exposure, educate workers about the risks of asbestos exposure, and ensure that measures are taken to control the levels of airborne asbestos particles. 

This includes establishing regulated areas where engineering controls ensure reduced airborne levels. This includes providing workers with proper protective equipment to prevent exposure. If a worker is exposed to levels of asbestos above the legal limits, they must be monitored medically.

Bottom Line

If you have been exposed to any form of asbestos and have developed any cancers, including mesothelioma, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover the costs of medical expenses, pain, suffering, or lost wages. In order to file and prevail in your personal injury lawsuit you will need the help of an experienced Personal Injury Attorney.

With their legal expertise, trial tactics, and expert witnesses, your Personal Injury attorney will be able to zealously advocate for you in order to achieve the best possible outcome for your case. Additionally, since Personal Injury attorneys work on contingency, if you don’t win, you don’t pay.

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