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Asbestos— profits over people.
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Tragically, the companies that manufactured and marketed asbestos-containing products knew, or should have known, that the products they were unleashing on the unsuspecting American workforce and general public would many years later result in the epidemic of disease being realized today. Medical literature documented the disease implications from the earliest days.

It was no mystery that the diseases associated with asbestos exposure would not occur until decades after the exposure occurred. The greater tragedy is that many of the companies had direct knowledge from experiences in their manufacturing facilities that the products they were making would cause disease and death, but they made the choice to put profits over lives. From the very beginning, asbestos diseases including malignant mesothelioma occurred in anyone exposed. While subsequent years of research have added to the knowledge of how the diseases occur, asbestos's ability to cause death and disease was documented from the time the fiber was added to manufacturing processes.

Armed with all of this information, some asbestos companies expanded the uses for asbestos into a broader range of products, increased production of existing product lines, or began for the very first time to make asbestos-containing products after having been directly advised by medical experts that exposure to asbestos would cause lung cancer including malignant mesothelioma!

As the asbestos industry is fond of saying, we all have asbestos in our lungs. They say that to try to convey to you that this is a normal process. But it overlooks the fact that it is such a ubiquitous product and has been used so irresponsibly in the last 100 years that literally it is now a contaminant of the air you breathe, no matter where you live. The industry tries to make you believe that there is a threshold level of asbestos in your lungs and it is perfectly safe and normal. Actually the reverse is true.


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What is asbestos?
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Asbestos is basically a rock or mineral. It is described by chemists as magnesium silicate fibers in various purities.
When crushed and milled it can be made into flexible fibers that are heat-resistant and display high tensile strengths.

Rich deposits of asbestos have been found in South Africa, Canada, Russia, Australia, and other countries. These deposits were so large that it could be cheaply mined and milled to use as filler in commercial products. Because of the low cost and plentiful supply, asbestos found its way into a large number of products and uses.

There are several different types of asbestos. Asbestos lung diseases, as well as certain cancers, are associated with exposure to all of these types if they are in a state where dust and fibers are given off and inhaled into the lungs.

The fine dust that is breathed into the lungs can best be characterized as countless microscopic needles, cork screws and shards of broken glass that stick into the deepest recesses of the lungs. It is so small that it cannot be seen with the naked eye. It is this process of these fine particles remaining in the lungs that is the cause of all the health troubles.

Additionally, because the fine particles can stay suspended in the air for many hours after the activity that caused the release of asbestos fibers has ended, many people are exposed to asbestos and are never aware of it. Often you cannot see it—you can never taste it or smell it.

Why was asbestos used?
At first it was valued for its heat resistance. When manufacturers discovered methods to incorporate it into mass production processes to make asbestos insulation products, the asbestos industry was born and quickly grew into a major industry. Over the years researchers discovered that it was an excellent additive to cements, plasters and spackling compounds as an effective and cheap binder.

Materials researchers came to value asbestos for its use in rubber, plastics, cements, paints, electrical products, fashion makeup, art supplies, gaskets, construction materials, home kitchen products, gardening supplies, pesticides, and on and on and on. By the 1970s it was used in over 3,000 different applications or products. If you need to know about a certain product or would like a list of known asbestos products, please feel free to contact us.

When were the dangers of asbestos known?
By 1936 documents produced by certain insurance companies insuring several large asbestos manufacturers clearly identified asbestos as a serious heath hazard to the lungs. By the late 1940s secret industry studies confirmed unexpected high incidences of lung cancers in animal studies as well as workers. In the early 1950s the asbestos mining companies were actively suppressing reports of high cancer rates among workers and those living near asbestos mines. If you would like to see some of these documents please feel free to call.


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Asbestos exposure—
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Home Contamination
Fatal lung diseases, including mesothelioma, have also occurred among family members of workers exposed to asbestos on the job. Families have also been exposed to asbestos when workers were engaged in asbestos removal operations.

In 1992 the U.S. Congress passed the Workers' Family Protection Act, which requested that the CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) conduct a study to "evaluate the potential for, prevalence of, and issues related to, the contamination of workers' homes with hazardous chemicals and substances... transported from the workplaces of such workers."

Dangers included workers inadvertently carrying hazardous materials such as asbestos home from work on their clothes, skin, hair, and tools and in their vehicles.

As a result, families of these workers have been exposed to hazardous substances and have developed various health problems, including malignant mesothelioma.

Preventative Measures in the Workplace—
Reducing asbestos exposure in the workplace.
Changing clothes before going home and leaving the asbestos-soiled clothing at work to be laundered by employers.
Storing street clothes in separate areas of the workplace to prevent their asbestos contamination.
Showering before leaving work.
Prohibiting removal of toxic substances or contaminated items from the workplace.

Preventative Measures at Home—
Separating work areas of cottage industries from living areas.
Properly storing and disposing of toxic substances on farms and in cottage industries.
Preventing family members from visiting the workplace.
Laundering asbestos-contaminated clothing separately from family laundry when necessary to wash contaminated clothing at home.
Informing workers of the risks to family members and educating as to preventative measures.


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John F. Dillon, Attorney at Law, P.O. Box 369, Folsom, LA 70437

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