Asbestos is a set of six naturally occurring fibers that is soft and flexible (like cotton and wool) and known for its fireproof qualities. Essentially asbestos is a form of rock and can be mined and processed, however, what makes asbestos so unique is the pliable fibers that make up the compound. Since asbestos grows naturally as a group of fibers, these fibers can easily be separated into threads. The fibers are broken down into two groups: Amphibole and Chrysotile.
Chrysotile asbestos is the most common form of asbestos. Known as the “white” asbestos, chrysotile is found in serpentine rocks and makes up 95% of what we consider asbestos-containing materials.
Amphibole asbestos is found in chemical factories, petroleum refineries and power plants. It is no longer commercially used and has been outlawed throughout the world; however, chrysotile is still produced in Russia, Canada and the United States.
Asbestos has been used for centuries and dates back over 4,500 years, the word “asbestos”, given by the Ancient Greeks, literally means “inextinguishable.” During the industrial revolution (18th to 19th century), asbestos became extremely popular because of its tensile strength, resistance to heat, electrical and chemical damage, and sound absorption. Because of its fireproof tendencies, asbestos often was mixed with cement and widely used for insulation during this time. It was not until the early 1900’s that scientists and researchers began to notice the risks associated with asbestos. Even then, asbestos was manufactured and utilized well until the 1970’s when government regulations finally limited the use of asbestos and suppressed the modern day uses of this deadly material.
In addition to commercial plants and factories across Alabama and the United States, asbestos has been used in over 3,000 household products such as hair dryers, floor tiles, ironing board covers, etc.
What does asbestos do in the body?
When asbestos fibers are inhaled, they enter through either the nasal cavity or mouth and travel through the trachea down to the lungs. While inside the lungs, the asbestos fibers seep into the alveoli (the part of the lungs that exchange oxygen for carbon dioxide) and remain there. The human body is typically able to remove most foreign substances through coughing or breaking down inhaled substances. Asbestos fibers, however, are resistant to coughing and therefore remain in the alveoli.
Symptoms of asbestos:
• Shortness of breath;
• Persistent cough that worsens over time;
• Coughing up blood;
• Tightness in the chest;
• Weight loss;
• Loss of appetite;
• Chronic fatigue; and
• Trouble swallowing.
For years workers in Alabama and throughout the country have been exposed to asbestos. With the large number of factories, steel plants, shipyards and construction sites in Alabama, it is no wonder aging workers every day are discovering they have mesothelioma cancer.
Tens of thousands of people have filed lawsuits against employers and corporations for asbestos exposure, and hundreds of millions of dollars has been paid out to victims and their families who have suffered from the deadly disease.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact the Alabama Asbestos Attorneys at Farris, Riley & Pitt today for a free case evaluation. Call us at 205-324-1212 or toll free at 1-888-580-5176.