What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is the name for a group of naturally occurring mineral fibers found in certain types of rocks.
These silicate minerals are fibrous and have excellent heat-resistant properties and tensile strength. Because of their unusual physical and chemical properties, asbestos fibers have been used in products before the Industrial Revolution.
During the 20th century, asbestos was heavily used as a strengthener, insulator and binding agent in products such as thermal insulation, cements, textiles, floor tiles, wallboard, gaskets, ropes, fireproof clothing, brakes and other products.
Types of Asbestos
There are two main varieties of asbestos: serpentine and amphibole.
• Known for its snake-like, curly appearance, this soft, flexible serpentine type of asbestos can be mixed and woven into products that require high-tensile strength and flexibility.
• A second form of commercial asbestos, amphiboles, have a needle-like shape and a harder composition.
Common Asbestos Fibers
The most common types of asbestos fibers are Chrysotile, also known as white asbestos; Amosite, also known as brown asbestos; and Crocidolite, also known as blue asbestos. The colors refer to the minerals in their raw state.
- Chrysotile is the most common type of asbestos, comprising approximately 90 to 95 percent of all asbestos found in the United States. Also known as "white asbestos", Chrysotile is made of minerals that crystallize in the serpentine pattern, which means its crystals are formed in sheets. Chrysotile has been linked with all asbestos-related diseases, including asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.
- Amosite is an Amphibole type of asbestos made of mineral fibers formed by crystals in a chain-like structure. Amosite is also called "brown asbestos" and comes from the asbestos mines of South Africa. Mesothelioma has been observed after occupational exposure to Amosite asbestos.
- Crocidolite is one of the five types of Amphibole asbestos whose mineral crystals are structured like a chain. Crocidolite is often called "blue asbestos," and it is mined in Australia, South Africa, the former Soviet Union and Canada.
Asbestos dust and fibers are microscopic. When asbestos is disturbed, these microscopic fibers are released into the air. When inhaled, they get trapped in certain organs and cause injury. The inhalation of asbestos fiber has been associated with many types of cancer, including mesothelioma, lung cancer, laryngeal cancer, colon cancer and esophageal cancer, as well as asbestosis which is a chronic and deadly fibrotic lung disease. Tragically, most asbestos-related diseases are incurable.
Most individuals who have been injured or have died from asbestos-related diseases were exposed when asbestos-containing products were installed or replaced. Tradesman often had to saw, cut, and pound the products, a process that emitted billions of microscopic asbestos fibers into the atmosphere. As a result, anyone in the vicinity of the work was at risk for breathing the fibers and developing disease. Even many wives who shook out and washed the dust-laden clothes of their husbands have developed asbestos-related diseases.
Because asbestos fibers are invisible, tasteless, odorless, and indestructible, many people have been unknowingly exposed to this material with devastating results. Since it can take years after exposure for effects to show, this condition continues to affect new individuals and their families every year. If you suspect you have been exposed to asbestos, talk to us. We know how to protect your rights as well as the rights of your loved ones.
Asbestos Companies' Knowledge of Dangers
Information concerning the health hazards of asbestos began appearing in medical and scientific literature in the early 1900s. By the late 1930s, respected medical journals already contained articles describing how asbestos could cause asbestosis and cancer, indicating that the disease took 15 years or more to develop (latency period); that the diseases were often progressive; and that asbestos disease could be fatal. In addition to the growing body of medical literature about the dangers of asbestos published throughout the early to mid-twentieth century, many asbestos companies had their own corporate memos, notes, letters, and scientific articles about the health dangers of asbestos exposure.
Despite this large body of knowledge, asbestos companies failed to adequately warn those who would come into contact with their products about the health hazards of such exposure.
This failure to adequately warn and protect those who could be exposed or come into contact with asbestos when the asbestos products were installed and/or removed is the basis for the negligence and/or strict liability lawsuits against these companies.
If you or a loved one have been exposed to asbestos, or are suffering from mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases, we would like to help