Cancer risk still high even as asbestos use goes down

The rate of asbestos exposure and related fatal disease might have fluctuated over time, but the danger of breathing in asbestos fibers has not. Although use of asbestos in construction and other industries has waned, danger still lurks in existing structures. Sadly, many workers in Ohio are unaware that they have even been exposed to the toxic substance until years later, when cancer diagnoses begin to roll in.

An out-of-state man is only one part of the so-called third-wave of asbestos related diseases that is rushing across the United States. Scientists claim that the wave, which was predicted back in the 1990s, is cresting. Intense abdominal pain sent the man to the hospital, where doctors discovered that his abdomen was filled with cancer. He was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma, a type of a cancer that is caused by asbestos exposure.

Although at the time of his diagnosis he was the owner and operator of a flooring business, the exposure occurred years before when he was still employed by AT&T. As an installer of underground cables for the phone and Internet company, he had moved cables through cement pipes that were made of the toxic asbestos. Any time a cable was moved, dust from the asbestos cement would rise into the air where workers inhaled it. AT&T still disputes the man's claim that he and other workers were not informed of the risk of asbestos exposure.

Asbestos use has decreased drastically over past decades, but the danger is not yet gone. Ohio workers who perform their job duties in or near existing structures often run a high risk of being accidentally exposed to asbestos, especially when the employer either fails to inform of the risk or provide necessary safety equipment. When cancer manifests as a result of this type of exposure, victims do not have to shoulder the burden alone. In many cases, workers who have been exposed to asbestos because of employer neglect choose to seek civil action against the party or parties believed responsible, which often results in compensation for any and all related damages.

Source: NPR, "America's 'Third Wave' Of Asbestos Disease Upends Lives", Jim Morris and Maryam Jameel, Dec. 17, 2015

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