Archive for January, 2012

Mesothelioma Legal Help: Part 1

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Mesothelioma can be a devastating disease. Typically linked to exposure during uses of asbestos, this rare type of cancer affects the pleural membrane surrounding the lungs or the lining of the abdomen. Asbestos, a naturally occurring fibrous mineral that has been used for thousands of years in a variety of materials, when disturbed, can become airborne and find its way into the mesothelium lining the lungs or stomach. Once there, asbestos can irritate this lining, resulting in the development of cancerous tissue. Because mesothelioma has an unusually long latency period of 10 to 50 years, many of the people who develop mesothelioma were exposed decades prior. Characterized by shortness of breath and a persistent cough, once diagnosed, mesothlioma is typically a rapidly progressing disease.

In addition to causing pain and suffering, mesothelioma causes economic hardship for victims and their families. People who develop mesothelioma are often retired and on a limited income, making proper health care and other experiences very challenging on victims and their families. And for people who are still working, mesotheiloma may well leave them physically unable to fulfill on their job requirements, leading to loss of income and additional stressors. At the same time that so many mesothelioma victims become unable to work, they also face staggering medical bills from things like mesothelioma treatment. The experience can be more than challenging, and many families, already dealing with these hardships and their own grief, just need someone to help them find much needed financial assistance.

Many mesothelioma victims and their families find it necessary to turn to the court system to obtain the funds necessary to pay for their extremely high expenses and also to provide much needed assistance to their families in this time of great need. Next week, we will explore that role that an experienced mesothelioma lawyer can play in assisting with this process and helping you understand mesothelioma victim’s rights.

 

Veterans With Mesothelioma

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

United States veterans have sacrificed a great deal so that the citizens of our country could continue to have the quality of life we often take for granted. The collective heroism, bravery, risk and sacrifice of this group are extraordinary. Sadly, it is this group that are also most affected by mesothelioma. That’s because for many years, the U.S. Military used asbestos widely in many applications. Likely as a result of this high level of exposure, veterans make up roughly 30% of all mesothelioma patients.

From the 1930’s to the 1970’s, the U. S. Military used over 300 products containing asbestos, some of them mandated for use because of their fire-retardant properties. In the Air Force, these mesothelioma-linked materials were used with brakes, heat shields, wiring and insulation. In the Army, asbestos was used in buildings as well as parts of vehicles. In the Coast Guard, many areas of the ship including the boiler room and engine were coated with asbestos insulation to prevent fire. Asbestos was also used in ropes. Marines were exposed to asbestos in ships and on land, as asbestos was used widely in both ship building and virtually every military installation. In some cases, enlisted men also participated in asbestos disposal, resulting in further exposure to the toxic material.

In particular, former Naval veterans and Naval shipyard workers have one of the highest risks of developing asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma. The material was used with boilers, gaskets, valves, and floor and pipe coverings in the engine and boiler rooms, navigation rooms, sleep quarters, and mess halls. In fact, there were practically no areas of Naval ships that were free of asbestos.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs does consider applications for benefits when a veteran has been diagnosed with mesothelioma and can prove that the asbestos exposure happened during their service. Even then the VA may not approve the claim. It is extremely helpful to get advice before submitting an application for benefits to the VA. If you or someone you know is a veteran diagnosed with mesothelioma, we encourage you to fill out our online form.

 

Asbestos in the Drinking Water?

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

When reading material about the uses of asbestos and mesothelioma-linked materials, you will mostly encounter facts about asbestos in the environment that can become airborne and lead to mesothelioma. However, largely because of the decay of cement water mains and the erosion of natural deposits, asbestos can also contaminate drinking water. Water suppliers are required by law to conduct routine monitoring to make sure that water levels are below the maximum contaminant level (MCL). According to the EPA, the MCL for asbestos in drinking water is 7 MFL. While MFL is not defined in the Basic Information about Asbestos in Drinking Water on the EPA website, the National Primary Drinking Water Regulations, as printed in the EPA publication, “Water On Tap: What You Need to Know,” define MFL as millions of fibers per liter. This document, updated in 2003, identifies the risk of developing benign intestinal polyps.

In Asbestos in Drinking-water, the Background document for development of WHO Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality the World Health Organization reports that most of the US population consumes drinking water with a concentration lower than 1 MFL. Research studying the effects of ingesting asbestos have yet to show a significant risk of cancer from ingesting asbestos. At the same time, the scientific community is concerned about possible risks and continues to research the area.

The EPA recommends finding out about your local source for drinking water. Numbers to call will appear on your water bill or telephone book’s government listings. If you contact your water utility company, they can provide you with a copy of the required annual consumer confidence report or water quality report that will give you information about the quality of water in your area. If your water supply is private, the EPA recommends that you contact the nearest community water system. For more information about asbestos and mesothelioma, please complete our online form.

Symptoms of Mesothelioma Disease

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Cancer generally begins when genetic mutations cause the cells to multiply. When it comes to mesothelioma causes, the exact process that leads to mesothelioma is not known, but more than 90% of cases are directly linked to asbestos exposure, making this the predominant risk factor for mesothelioma. If the dust from “friable” or airborne asbestos is inhaled or, in some cases, swallowed, asbestos can lodge in the tissue. The resulting irritation may lead to mesothelioma, which can develop undetected over a period of 20 to 40 years. While some people who are exposed over a long period of time never develop mesothelioma, it can develop in others with a very brief exposure. Because of this inconsistency, it is suspected that other factors may influence the risk of mesothelioma. According to the Mayo Clinic, these other possible risk factors include personal history of asbestos exposure, exposure to a certain type of radiation, exposure to a monkey virus through a polio vaccine, and a family history of mesothelioma.

Exposure to asbestos was more common in the United States prior to the 1970’s, before the risks were well known. Unfortunately, even after the risks were well publicized, some companies continued to expose workers to unsafe levels of exposure without proper protection. Because of mesothelioma’s long latency period, some of these people have only recently been diagnosed. Sadly, a diagnosis of mesothelioma often comes with the prognosis of a short life expectancy.

Symptoms of mesothelioma can include chest pain, painful coughing, lumps, and shortness of breath. In the case of peritoneal mesothelioma, victims sometimes experience abdominal pain, swelling, lumps, and weight loss. In many cases, symptoms are subtle and easily misidentified until the disease has progressed significantly.

Being diagnosed with mesothelioma can be devastating to a family both emotionally and financially, as many people who develop the disease are retired and on a limited income, or are forced to quit work because of their inability to perform the necessary tasks. For this reason, it is important to learn about mesothelioma victim’s rights, as victims may find legal assistance very helpful. In many states, courts are very understanding of the needs of mesothelioma patients for a quick outcome, and potentially exhausting meetings and proceedings can kept to a minimum. For more information about services available, please fill out our online form.