Recently, the United States began importing increased amounts of asbestos. Changes in federal policy regarding the use of asbestos have motivated more companies to begin working with this mineral. In many ways, asbestos is a natural product with potentially beneficial uses. However, exposure to asbestos can prove very dangerous for the people who come into contact with it.
Those who mine asbestos, transport it, work in factories that process it, or handle products that include it could find themselves dealing with serious health consequences as a result. Asbestos exposure is correlated with a large number of serious medical conditions, including the deadly cancer mesothelioma. Inhaling the mineral can irritate the lungs. After many decades, that irritation may develop into full-blown cancer.
Reports detailing the devastation to an entire Aboriginal community stemming from asbestos mining in Australia are a reminder of the risks that American workers face with the increased industrial use of asbestos.
Entire town destroyed by contamination from an asbestos mine
Pilbara was once the site of Australia's only blue asbestos mine. For decades, the mine provided local workers with steady employment. Many people considered this industry a boon to an otherwise rural area.
Unfortunately, the same mine that brought money to the community also devastated the local population. The men who loaded the asbestos, drove the trucks and unloaded the product at the delivery point have now almost all died from mesothelioma. In fact, thousands of people who didn't even work with asbestos but simply experienced environmental inhalation exposure to the deadly blue asbestos also died.
The government has had to declare the entire area contaminated, and cleanup efforts could take years and cost millions of dollars. There's also the social and emotional damage caused by the rampant, aggressive mesothelioma in the area. There are hardly any families left untouched by the sickness and the loss that it inevitably causes.
This case is a sad example of how important adequate safety and health screening are for those who work with asbestos.
Those sickened by asbestos exposure at work have the right to fight back
The medical conditions associated with asbestos are often persistent and deadly. They can affect someone's ability to work and their quality of life. Anyone who finds themselves dealing with a shocking diagnosis related to asbestos exposure should carefully consider their options.
In some cases, a compensation fund may be available to help employees from a particular company seek treatment. Other times, those dealing with the medical consequences of mesothelioma will need to seek compensation by pursuing the lawsuit against their former employers.
Talking with an attorney who understands the complex laws surrounding mesothelioma and asbestos exposure is a good first step toward getting the compensation you deserve.