Many union workers exposed to asbestos have been led to believe that they have no legal options once they are diagnosed with mesothelioma. That’s not true.

The St. Louis Labor Tribune, the country’s largest union newspaper at 90,000 paid subscribers, published an article in the May 5 edition informing their readers about this misconception. The Simmons Hanly Conroy, and myself, were featured in the article, titled “Decades later, asbestos still haunting union workers and families.”

Thousands of Missouri and Illinois trade workers have died from mesothelioma, and, as reporter Kevin Weaks wrote, “all they did was take a breath.”

So what do you do if you believe you’ve been exposed to asbestos? There are some precautionary steps that you can take.

First, educate yourself about asbestos and mesothelioma. It is a complicated topic and the Internet has just as much misinformation as it does correct information. Some reputable places to start include the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation andthe Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization. I’ve included additional links below to government studies and fact sheets.

Next, make a record of any of your potential past exposures. The Many companies knew about the dangers of asbestos. In the St. Louis area alone there are dozens of jobsites where asbestos exposure could have occurred. If you have records that you worked at a jobsite and used this product that contained asbestos, that’s important information.

Third, take that record to your doctor before you do anything else. Have an open conversation about your past exposure with him or her. They can help you evaluate your medical risk and make the best recommendations about what to do next.

Mesothelioma, while one of the more deadly consequences of asbestos exposure, is not the only illness linked to these exposures. Asbestos can increase your the risk of lung cancer, asbestosis, a noncancerous lung ailment, and other cancers, such as those of the larynx and kidneys.

No amount of money will give you back your health, and as firm partner Chris Guinn said in the above article, “We tell our clients that the most important thing is to focus on their treatment.”

Finally, consider your legal options. To learn more about the process of filing an asbestos lawsuit, I invite you to browse around our web site, starting with our mesothelioma and asbestos practice area section.