In Russia, the city of Asbest is built around the largest asbestos-producing mine in the world. Nearly all of the town’s residents work in the mine, and oncologists in the tiny town see about 40-50 cancer patients per day, nearly all of whom are suffering from asbestos-related ailments.
Interestingly, the mining company, Uralasbest, recently released boxes of product printed with Donald Trump’s face, stating on social media that “Donald is on our side!” Why? Well, as anyone in the asbestos industry knows, Trump is a firm supporter of asbestos.
In fact, while the disgraced Scott Pruitt was still head of the EPA, he enacted a “significant new use” rule for asbestos. This allows for the manufacturing and import of new asbestos-containing products, meaning that asbestos use could make a comeback in the US.
Unfortunately, overwhelming evidence supports the fact that asbestos is unsafe, and that exposure can cause serious and even fatal health conditions. Below, we provide a reminder of why asbestos is so dangerous, and discuss the complexities of asbestos liability.
Asbestos Health Risks for New Yorkers
The health risks associated with asbestos are well-documented, which is why it has long been prohibited in new construction and heavily regulated in old construction.
Sustained exposure to asbestos may lead to the following serious or fatal health conditions:
- Asbestosis: A chronic lung disease in which asbestos fibers become lodged in the lungs, and scar-like tissue forms, ultimately resulting in pulmonary fibrosis. Fibrosed lung tissue is not as elastic, so lung fibrosis compromises lung function. Common symptoms include shortness of breath, wheezing, chest pain, finger pain, and bluish skin discoloration.
- Lung cancer: Asbestos is highly carcinogenic, so breathing in asbestos significantly increases your risk of developing lung cancer. Lung cancer generally does not cause symptoms in early stages, but symptoms of advanced lung cancer include chronic cough, weight loss, fever, shortness of breath, and chest pain.
- Mesothelioma: An aggressive and usually fatal type of cancer that arises from the mesothelial cells that line the lungs, body cavity, and heart cavity. Mesothelioma is extremely rare in the general population, but is common in asbestos workers or other persons exposed to significant amounts of asbestos. Common symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, shoulder pain, weight loss, and fever.
- Compromised lung function: Even if the serious respiratory diseases mentioned above do not develop, asbestos compromises lung function. It therefore exacerbates pre-existing illnesses such as asthma, and it decreases lung function over time.
- Immune effects: Chronic asbestos exposure can weaken the immune system, increasing the risk of infection, certain cancers, and other immune diseases.
How New York Handles Asbestos Liability
Due to the health risks of asbestos, there is already a significant legal precedent for worker’s compensation and premises liability suits in which victims of asbestos exposure have recovered damages from property owners or employers. Should asbestos come back into common use, we can expect an uptick in asbestos liability suits.
Asbestos cases are often complex, as asbestos-related health conditions often take decades to develop. This means that establishing causation can be difficult, and potentially that the accountable parties are no longer in business. Additionally, victims or their loved ones have only 2-3 years to file for damages from an asbestos-related diagnosis or death.
Regardless, asbestos is a serious health hazard. If you or a loved one fall victim to asbestos-related illness, consider protecting your financial future by recovering damages.