Asbestos Exposure & Mesothelioma Risk

Asbestos is a naturally occurring group of minerals that contain strong, flexible and easily separated fibers. A poor conductor of heat and electricity, asbestos is a multipurpose material used in a number of building, manufacturing and commercial applications.

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Legal Reviewer Nick Angelides
Legally Reviewed and Fact Checked by:
Nicholas J. Angelides, Attorney, Simmons Hanly Conroy

Asbestos Exposure Information

The qualities that make asbestos a highly desirable material also make it deadly. Once disturbed, asbestos fibers turn into microscopic airborne dust particles. Lingering in the air for hours or days, these fibers can attach to clothing or work instruments. If these fibers are inhaled, they can cause serious health problems. Asbestos exposure has been known to cause a number of cancers, the most notable being mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that normally attacks the lungs and abdomen.

Use the information below to learn more about the dangers and sources of asbestos exposure.

Asbestos Exposure History

Although asbestos history dates back to ancient Greece, the mineral became most popular in the United States during the 20th century Industrial Revolution. Known as the “miracle fiber” for its tensile strength, electrical resistance and fireproof properties, asbestos was most commonly used in factories, oil refineries, railroad yards and shipyards. Numerous products were also made with asbestos, including:

  • Gaskets
  • Fire retardant coatings
  • Concrete
  • Bricks
  • Pipes
  • Cement
  • Pipe insulation
  • Fireproof drywall
  • Flooring
  • Roofing
  • Joint compound
  • And, More

Over time, asbestos found its way into over 3,000 household and industrial products, particularly in the automobile and construction industries.

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Growth of Asbestos Lawsuits

By the middle of the 20th century, it was clear that asbestos was dangerous. Articles and reports were making connections between workplace asbestos exposure and diseases such as lung cancer and asbestosis. Despite the new found awareness of the dangers of asbestos exposure, many companies continued to allow its use and failed to provide their workers with warnings.

Asbestos use finally began to decline in the early 1970s, when major asbestos lawsuits became more commonplace. Because asbestos exposure was so widespread, generations of workers were experiencing negative asbestos health effects and were seeking compensation for their injuries. The mountain of litigation drove many U.S. companies to seek refuge in bankruptcy and others to cease asbestos use in order to avoid lawsuits against themselves.

Asbestos Exposure Today

While some countries have completely banned asbestos, and other countries, like the U.S., have placed heavy regulations on its use, asbestos is still present and continues to be used.

The prevalence of asbestos use during the 20th century now poses serious health risks for more than one million U.S. workers. View a list of occupations most at risk for asbestos exposure.

Want to learn more about the history of asbestos use and mesothelioma? View the mesothelioma litigation timeline.

At Risk Occupations Mesothelioma Timeline
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Asbestos Exposure Videos

Watch the videos below to learn more about asbestos, exposure to asbestos and lawsuits related to asbestos exposure.

Simmons Support Team
Legal Reviewer Nick AngelidesReviewed by:Nicholas J. Angelides

Attorney, Simmons Hanly Conroy

  • Fact-Checked
  • Legal Reviewer

Attorney Nick Angelides is a shareholder at Simmons Hanly Conroy. He joined the firm in 2003, and currently helps direct the legal strategy for all of the firm’s asbestos and mesothelioma cases. Nick has nearly 15 years of litigation experience and has handled asbestos cases throughout the country, recovering hundreds of millions of dollars on behalf of individuals and families impacted by asbestos-related diseases.