Asbestos Related Lung Cancers
Companies and manufacturers mined and utilized asbestos for commercial purposes in North America starting in the late 1800’s. Asbestos has been classified as a known human carcinogen by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Medical research first made a causal relationship between exposure to asbestos and lung cancer in 1935. In 1942, a member of the National Cancer Institute confirmed asbestos as a cause of lung cancer. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in 1986 proclaimed lung cancer as the greatest risk for Americans who worked with asbestos. OSHA has determined that the higher the exposure to asbestos, the higher one’s risk of contracting lung cancer. Lung cancer resulting from asbestos exposure results in the same manner as mesothelioma.
All forms of asbestos are known to cause lung cancer, and all forms of lung cancer can be attributed to asbestos. When working with asbestos, microscopic asbestos fibers are released into the air. If inhaled, these thin fibers can become trapped in the lungs. The size of the asbestos fiber determines where the fibers may become lodged. Once trapped in the lungs, these asbestos fibers often lead to mutations in the cells of the lung tissue, resulting in cancer. This mutation is due to the fibers causing irritation and cellular damage, which eventually generates a tumor. After decades, these fibers cause enough irritation and cellular damage to form cancer. Asbestos exposure has additionally been determined to play a substantial, contributing factor in the development of lung cancer for those who smoked. When combined, asbestos exposure and smoking have a synergistic effect, meaning asbestos and smoking together cause lung cancer at a rate that neither could produce independently. People may be exposed to asbestos in their workplace, their communities, or their homes. Since the 1800s, asbestos has been used in a multitude of various industries. The building and construction industries have utilized it for strengthening roofing, sound absorption, and cement. The shipbuilding industry has used asbestos to insulate boilers, pumps, and valves, and produce resistant gasket and packing for steam-driven machinery. The automotive industry used asbestos in vehicle brake shoes and clutch disks. The refinery and plant industries have used asbestos to insulate steam pipes and other pipes running corrosive materials. The Navy utilized asbestos on almost all the equipment and pipes below deck. Lastly, the oil and gas industry utilized asbestos for drilling mud additives, brake pads, and clutches on heavy machinery used in the drilling operation.
People who worked in the industries listed above are at the highest risk of asbestos exposure and developing lung cancer. If you worked in construction, refineries, nuclear power plants, shipyards, the Navy, oil and gas drilling operations, the automotive industry, or around heavy equipment, you may have been exposed to asbestos.
People who worked around asbestos during that time are at risk for asbestos-related lung diseases. People at highest risk include unprotected workers who made, installed, or removed products containing asbestos. People who worked near others who did these jobs also are at risk. Family members of workers who were exposed to asbestos may also be at risk. Family members may have breathed in asbestos fibers that workers brought home on their clothes, shoes, or bodies. If you worked around asbestos and have been diagnosed with any form of lung cancer, please reach out to us as soon as possible.