A new report released this month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that malignant mesothelioma mortality has increased in spite of widespread efforts to educate the public about the dangers of working, unprotected, in areas containing asbestos.
Specifically, the number of malignant mesothelioma deaths increased for those 85 or older, decreased for those aged 35 to 64, but continued at somewhat consistent levels for those under age 55, suggesting ongoing occupational and environmental exposures to asbestos fibers in spite of regulatory actions taken by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Due to how heavily asbestos was used in the construction of buildings, homes, and schools years ago, and the resulting illness in many individuals who were exposed to the substance, the use of asbestos is now forbidden across industries.
Mesothelioma is a rare cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Those living or working near asbestos most commonly inhale asbestos fibers, which start to break down tissues covering organs such as the lungs and cause the development of tumors that manifest into cancer, sometimes taking 25 to 71 years (the “latency period”) to result in a diagnosis. The median survival period after malignant mesothelioma is diagnosed is approximately one year.
Occupational exposure to asbestos has historically been the biggest risk in terms of developing mesothelioma. Industries such as mining, milling, shipbuilding, manufacturing, construction, etc. posed the most significant threat, and while those industries ceased use of the substance, current occupational exposure continues during the remediation and maintenance of asbestos-containing buildings.
After 2005, the projected number of malignant mesothelioma deaths was expected to decrease, but that has not been the case. In fact, contrary to these projections, the number of deaths has been increasing, underscoring the need for continuing (and even increasing) efforts to prevent exposure and for ongoing surveillance to monitor trends.
Specifically, the report suggests that new cases may be resulting from occupational exposure to asbestos fibers during the maintenance and remediation of existing asbestos in older buildings, in spite of the protective measures workers are required to take, as established by the Occupational Safety Hazards Administration (OSHA). Some of these measures include the use of wet methods, vacuum cleaners equipped with particulate air filters, local exhaust ventilation, respiratory protection, etc. Yet this report indicates that they are woefully insufficient to properly reduce employee exposure to levels at or below the permissible limits.
Attorneys and Funds to Help
There are various sources of compensation for mesothelioma victims which include settlements and funds established to help deal with the dire medical consequences of the cancer. Veterans in particular are able to seek compensation from a fund established by the Veterans Administration.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, a Louisiana mesothelioma lawyer with Harrell & Nowak can help you secure the compensation you deserve. We serve New Orleans and surrounding communities. Contact us today to learn how you and your loved ones can receive compensation in the wake of your diagnosis.