Naturally-occurring asbestos minerals have been used for dozens of commercial and industrial applications, from insulation to the creation of fireproof drywall. In recent years, however, use of this mineral resource has dwindled. Medical professionals have known for decades that asbestos poses a grave danger to those exposed to this mineral. However, lawmakers eventually enacted protections to limit the exposure of workers and the public to this known carcinogen.
These regulations may prevent future issues, but they do little for the thousands of people exposed at work or even at home to asbestos. Inhalation of the mineral leads to lung disease and even cancers. Workers who develop mesothelioma, a cancer of the organ lining associated with asbestos exposure, may take years or decades to develop symptoms. Thankfully, some funds provide financial support for those struggling with mesothelioma.
Those same funds may not offer support to people who develop non-mesothelioma cancers as a result of asbestos exposure. There are currently more than 6,000 lawsuits pending against companies that sell talc powder, also branded as baby powder. These lawsuits claim that contaminated powders lead to the development of serious and sometimes deadly cancers. They seek compensation for medical expenses and wrongful death in cases where cancer proved fatal.
Mesothelioma is deadly and aggressive cancer
A lawsuit currently working its way through the South Carolina courts highlights the extreme risk asbestos poses to the public. It involved a woman who died from pericardial mesothelioma at only 30 years old. The cancer attacked the lining of her heart. She was also a lifetime user of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) baby powder.
Several recent lawsuits have charged J&J with selling asbestos contaminated baby powder, but most of those cases involve ovarian cancer. In this case, the victim with no other known points of exposure to asbestos developed this slow-growing and deadly cancer at a surprisingly young age. J &J maintains that their baby powder has never contained any asbestos, but proving that in court may be difficult.
After all, there are memos and internal documents now available to the public that show J&J staff felt concerned about potential contamination as far back as the 1970s. However, instead of labeling their product carefully or warning the public, J&J chose to assume their product was safe, even if there was contamination.
There is no cure for mesothelioma yet
Like cancer, mesothelioma is particularly cruel. It causes the victim pain and can severely impact quality of life as the cancer progresses. Treatments can reduce symptoms and improve longevity, but this form of cancer is typically fatal, as there is no known cure. Those who find themselves or a loved one diagnosed with mesothelioma should carefully examine their past in an attempt to determine how and when they experienced asbestos exposure.