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Decades Later, Asbestos Still Haunting Union Workers & Families

Kevin Weaks
St. Louis Labor Tribune

Thousands of Missouri and Illinois residents have died from mesothelioma, and all they did was take a breath.

Sadly, the dangers of asbestos exposure were known long before any efforts were made to protect workers. Throughout the last century, thousands of St. Louis workers were exposed to invisible, microscopic asbestos fibers and did not even know they were in danger.

Even worse, the toxic substance came home with them on their clothing, exposing their spouses and children. Decades later, those exposed have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, a deadly form of cancer.

Asbestos was widely used in many industrial products, including cement, brake linings, roof shingles, flooring products, textiles, and insulation. When tiny asbestos particles float in the air, especially during the manufacturing process, they may be inhaled or swallowed.

Asbestos exposure is the single known cause of mesothelioma.

“It’s important to understand that mesothelioma is a cancer caused only by exposure to asbestos and that thousands of union members – and their families – throughout Missouri and Illinois have been exposed,” said Chris Guinn, partner in Simmons Hanly Conroy (Simmons Hanly Conroy LLC), which specializes in representing mesothelioma victims.

“Unfortunately, there are a number of misconceptions about asbestos litigation,” Guinn noted. “Many union members believe if they’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma or asbestos-related lung cancer, they have no legal options. This simply isn’t true.We’ve helped hundreds of trade workers and their families throughout the region.

“We tell our clients that the most important thing is to focus on their treatment. But we also make them aware that starting the legal process is critical. Filing a lawsuit sends a message to companies that knowingly exposing workers to hazardous materials is not okay. Additionally, the monetary recover helps cover medical expenses and ensure that your family is taken care of,” Guinn said.

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