It has been an honor representing the many clients who found themselves injured by exposure to asbestos. Most were exposed in the workplace, working hard jobs as boilermakers, pipefitters and other jobs that were key to our country’s industrialization and our success in World War II. Now with many of the offending companies out of business or just coming out of bankruptcy, most remaining claims will not involve jury trials, but some may qualify for small settlements that will be handled admistratively.
Many young people today do not know about the history of asbestos injuries, so I post some information below.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous silicate that was widely used in the past for commercial applications because of its heat-resistance properties. Asbestos exists in several forms. The 2 primary groups of asbestos comprise amphibole and serpentine fibers. Chrysotile (white asbestos) is serpentine and the only form of asbestos that is used commercially at this time, and it accounts for more than 90% of asbestos used in the United States.
For the most part, asbestos exposure has been industrial or occupational and primarily affects workers involved in mining or processing asbestos or those involved in the use of asbestos in the shipbuilding, construction, and textile- and insulation-manufacturing industries. About 2-6 million people in the United States are estimated to have had significant levels of exposure. High exposures ceased in the United States in the late 1970s because of governmental legislation passed after the adverse effects became recognized. However, because the latency period between an initial exposure and the development of most asbestos-related disease is 20 years or longer, asbestos-related disease remains an important public health issue.
The spectrum of asbestos-related thoracic diseases includes benign pleural effusion, pleural plaques, diffuse pleural thickening, rounded atelectasis, asbestosis, mesothelioma, and lung cancer. Asbestosis is defined as diffuse lung fibrosis due to the inhalation of asbestos fibers, and it is one of the major causes of occupationally related lung damage. Mesothelioma is a malignant pleural or peritoneal tumor that rarely occurs in patients who have not been exposed to asbestos.
The diagnostic approach to asbestos-related intrathoracic disease is different from that of other diffuse lung diseases because of the medicolegal implications. The likelihood of asbestos-related disease should be determined, and other possible causes should be eliminated. An assessment of the extent of disease is used to calculate compensation. Therefore, imaging plays a pivotal role in the diagnosis and management of asbestos-related disease.