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Houston Mesothelioma Attorneys

Helping Workers & Families Affected by Mesothelioma & Asbestosis

Asbestos exposure has been linked to fatal lung diseases such as asbestosis and mesothelioma. Inadequately protected workers would carry the asbestos fibers home to their families on their clothes. As these workers would dust off or wash their clothes, the fibers would become airborne again and put their families at the same risk.

Unfortunately, many companies have known about the dangers of asbestos exposure since the 1940s, but they neglected to warn employees or provide protective gear. Because of their negligence, many companies have knowingly placed not only their employees but also their employees’ families in danger of developing serious medical conditions. As one of the oldest, most infamous personal injury torts, asbestos exposure is still affecting people nearly a century after it was first discovered to cause a unique form of lung cancer. If a loved one has ever suffered mesothelioma, they suffered from asbestos exposure—mesothelioma has no other known causes.

If you are looking for a top-rated industrial injury attorney to help, give Arnold & Itkin a call. We can determine your odds in court and help you get the medical support you need. Our firm has been involved in some of the biggest injury cases nationwide and has secured billions. Call (888) 493-1629 today.

Below, we've provided a brief primer on asbestos exposure and how/why it causes lung disease.

What Is Asbestos?

Asbestos is the name for a group of minerals that have been found to occur naturally together.

Asbestos is silicate compounds that have been found to have similar properties among them, including:

  • Resistance to heat
  • Inability to conduct electricity
  • Tensile strength

The mineral is fibrous, which is important for reasons we discuss below. These properties made them popular as insulation material in factories, as it was relatively resistant to most conditions common to industrial work. They were also affordable—which made them an attractive option in the construction, shipbuilding, and automotive industries during the Industrial Revolution. During this time, they became commonplace in insulation material, manufactured goods (e.g., brake pads), as well as plaster, drywall, and even concrete and bricks.

Unfortunately, as early as the late 19th century, there was a demonstrable link between asbestos exposure and early death, as well as respiratory issues. This culminated in the 1970s when the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) banned all asbestos use in wallboard patching compounds and gas fireplaces.

During this time, certain companies voluntarily quit using them. In 1989, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned all new uses and implemented regulations for inspecting buildings. Since the first warnings signs of asbestos, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, EPA, and International Agency for Research have officially classified asbestos as a known carcinogen.

Explaining the Health Hazards of Asbestos Exposure

The mesothelium is a protective tissue that lines the lungs and other vital organs. When asbestos is inhaled, asbestos fibers interact with mesothelial cells and wrap around the chromosomes, causing mutation. The mutation can result in immunosuppressive disorders, which stop white blood cells from killing tumor cells. The mesothelial mutation allows foreign DNA to enter the cells. The introduction causes cells to have only one chromosome where there should be two, which constitutes a gene abnormality. This rapidly increases the odds of forming tumors.

Both mesothelioma and asbestosis result from asbestos’ unique properties. Because the mineral is made of practically indestructible microscopic fibers that do not break down easily, some of these strands can get inhaled and embed permanently within the walls of the lungs. The silicate fibers irritate the flesh and form scar tissue, which affects the way that lungs move. This results in not only pain but coughing and shortness of breath. This is asbestosis. The development of scar tissue can eventually lead to tumor growth when the condition becomes mesothelioma.

Here’s the difficult thing about asbestos exposure:
Mesothelioma can take as long as 50 years to develop. It can be difficult to prove where and when the asbestos exposure occurred, severely complicating a personal injury claim.

Symptoms of Mesothelioma

Symptoms of cancer in the outer lining of the lungs and internal chest wall can include chest pain, fluid around the lungs, difficulty breathing, fatigue, and anemia. Coughing up blood, wheezing, and hoarseness can also be symptoms of mesothelioma in the chest cavity. Mesothelioma cancer can also be found in the protective membrane lining the abdominal cavity. When the mesothelial cells of the chest cavity are exposed to asbestos, they mutate and form cancer cells. Symptoms may include bowel difficulties, swelling and pain in the abdominal area, and weight loss. These symptoms may not necessarily be the result of asbestos cancer, but you should still check with your doctor if any of these are present.

How Your Doctor Can Test Symptoms for Mesothelioma

  • General Physical Examination
    This will likely be the first thing your doctor does. It will include a chest X-ray and blood work.
  • Complete Blood Count (CBC)
    If your doctor believes you have indications of asbestos cancer, they will likely run a CBC. This is also known as an FBC (full blood count), and it assesses the levels of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. A CBC will also test for the percentage of hemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen to the lungs, in red blood cells. Finally, your doctor may also test for sedimentation rate, which is the rate at which red blood cells fall to the bottom of a test tube. Infections and cancer cause red blood cells to drop faster than healthy red blood cells.
  • Surgical Biopsy
    A surgical biopsy requires a surgeon or oncologist to remove a sample of the suspected tissue for examination in a laboratory. The biopsy is done in different ways. If the sample is needed from the lung area, a small incision is made in the chest wall, and a thoracoscope (a thin, lit tube with a camera on the end) is inserted between two ribs, allowing the doctor to look inside the chest cavity. A biopsy for mesothelioma cancer in the abdomen is done with a peritoneoscope. For this procedure (known as peritoneoscopy), the abdomen cavity is inflated with gas, and a small incision is made to insert the scope. The doctor can then take a sample of tissue while examining the abdominal cavity.

Mesothelioma & Asbestos FAQ

Where Can Asbestos Be Found?

Before it was phased out, asbestos was widely used in different industries because it was affordable and durable. This included manufacturing of homes, vehicles, piping, and certain types of cement. Homes built before 1970 are particularly at risk, as they may have been built using asbestos materials. Asbestos was also commonly used in the manufacturing industry, meaning workers in industrial facilities are at risk.

How Can I Know If I Have Mesothelioma?

The symptoms of mesothelioma are similar to other, less dangerous diseases such as bronchitis, pneumonia, and even the common cold. Those who have chest pain, fatigue, weight loss, shortness of breath, and coughing should consider going to the doctor for a physical examination, especially those who believe that they have been exposed to asbestos. More serious symptoms include coughing up blood and respiratory issues.

What Is Malignant Mesothelioma & What Is the Prognosis?

Malignant mesothelioma is an aggressive form of lung cancer with a long latency period. An individual can go upward of 30 years without knowing that they have contracted the illness. This frequently results in patients discovering cancer when it is in its later and more aggressive stages. Mesothelioma that has spread from the lymph nodes to other organs in the body have an even bleaker outlook for recovery. Many of those who are diagnosed with mesothelioma die within a year of their initial diagnosis, although this is typical for more severe cases.

Who Is Most at Risk for Developing the Disease?

Those who worked in the manufacturing industry at any point throughout the past 50 years should consider the possibility that they were exposed to asbestos, particularly those who worked in the automobile and construction industries. Also, those who lived with manufacturing workers may have been exposed. Others that may have contracted mesothelioma include those who live or have lived in homes built before 1970.

How Does Asbestos Cancer Spread?

Asbestos cancer can spread to healthy tissue from malignant cells. Another method for the spread is through lymphatic fluids, which then cause malignancy of lymph nodes. Blood can also carry cancer cells. Cancer can enter into veins and capillary walls and use the blood to travel.

What Is Staging?

Staging is the process of determining if the asbestos cancer has spread. Staging tests can include X-rays, ultrasound, endoscopic ultrasound, and MRIs. These allow physicians to see if or where your asbestos cancer has spread, which determines to which stage cancer has progressed.

What Are the Current Treatment Options?

Asbestos cancer treatment options depend on several factors, which include the stage of cancer, the overall health and age of the individual, and the feasibility to remove tumors surgically. Individuals should consult with their physicians about treatment options. Treatments may be "standard," which is defined as being generally accepted, widely used, and appropriate for the type of cancer you have. Other options may include clinical trials testing the effectiveness of a new treatment or an improvement to an existing treatment.

Individuals should discuss all treatment options with their doctors to determine what is best for each case of asbestos cancer.

Who Is Responsible?

Asbestos cancer has been found to occur in people who have either worked around or been exposed to asbestos fibers floating in the air. Often, these airborne asbestos fibers were the result of negligence by a company that allowed fibers to be free-floating. Supplying proper protective gear and adherence to OSHA and EPA asbestos regulations is the responsibility of any employer where asbestos exposure is a risk. Back in the 1940s and 1950s, companies began to learn about the connection between cancer in the lung and asbestos exposure. Many of these companies elected to inform neither or protect their workers. Asbestos cancer can take up to 50 years to produce symptoms. After 50 years, many people have moved on to other jobs and companies' ownership can change hands many times, making it more difficult to find the exact individuals who are liable.

Information Regarding Asbestosis

Asbestosis is a serious lung disease caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibers. Asbestosis is characterized by shortness of breath during exertion, chest pain, coughing, and tightness in the chest. Asbestosis is brought on by breathing airborne asbestos dust, fibers, or particles. Most cases take 5 to 10 years after exposure for asbestosis to become apparent, but it can take as long as 20.

To date, there is no known cure for asbestosis.
You can only try to prevent further damage by removing yourself from exposure.

There are several treatments available to help ease the symptoms, including medication. In severe cases, a lung transplant may be needed.

Contact a Mesothelioma Lawyer from Our Firm Today: (888) 493-1629

It is extremely important that you do not hesitate to get the involvement of a lawyer to help evaluate your claim, build a case, and fight for you. You need lawyers who are experienced, driven, and understand the depth of your injury. Arnold & Itkin LLP understands first and foremost the health concerns, but we also understand you may have even lost your job and are worried about how to pay for the cost of treatment. Our attorneys will make sure you can meet your financial obligations, receive the medical care you need, and find those responsible for your illness. We know how much is on the line. Only the best attorney will do.

Call (888) 493-1629 or fill out our online form for a free consultation. We never charge a fee until we win your case.

Case Results

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  • $171 Million One of the Largest Confidential Settlements in History Arnold & Itkin worked over the course of several years to represent clients in a case that many other law firms turned down. In the end, we were able to obtain a record-setting confidential settlement of $171 million.
  • $97 Million Massive Settlement Secured for Refinery Workers Arnold & Itkin is proud to share that after months of preparation for trial, our firm was able to secure a huge settlement for clients who were injured in a refinery fire. Find out more now.
  • $44 Million The Largest Verdict Ever Won for an Amputee Victim Arnold & Itkin represented a construction superintendent who required a leg amputation after a crane collapse. At the time of the collapse, our client had been standing behind a safety fence 100 feet away when a fallen piece of crane equipment pinned ...
  • $39.7 Million Record Verdict Won for Victim of Industrial Accident Attorneys Kyle Findley and Adam Lewis obtained a record $39.744 million verdict on behalf of a client who was burned in a severe dust fire and explosion at a plywood plant in Corrigan, TX.
  • $18.5 Million Second Verdict Won for 4 Victims of Geismar Explosion In our second trial on behalf of victims of the 2013 plant explosion in Geismar, LA, Arnold & Itkin won a massive verdict for 4 workers and their families. The verdict will go toward providing the extensive care they have required in the years since ...
  • $15.5 Million Massive Verdict Won for Geismar Explosion Victims Arnold & Itkin won a landmark verdict against Williams Companies, Inc. and child company Williams Olefins LLC for their part in the 2013 explosion that killed 2 workers and injured over 100 more. Williams Companies tried to blame the incident on ...
  • $13.7 Million Massive Settlement Won Only Months After Injury Arnold & Itkin represented a plant worker who was seriously injured in an accident on the job. Plant injuries are often complex, taking years to fully investigate and litigate. Fortunately, our firm’s work was able to secure a multi-million dollar ...
  • $12 Million Injured Worker Received Settlement for Burn Injuries Our industrial injury lawyers have recently recovered $12 million on behalf of a plant worker who suffered burns when a safety valve failed at the refinery where he was employed. His settlement will go toward providing him with extensive and ...
  • $11.7 Million Settlement Won for Plant Worker Injured During Turnaround Attorneys Kurt Arnold and Jason Itkin successfully recovered $11.75 million on behalf of a man who was injured while working a turnaround at an industrial plant. He was injured because he and his team were not informed of the plant’s dangers, and his ...
  • $11.6 Million Verdict Secured for a Worker Partially Blinded on the Job Our client was only offered $300,000 by the defendant for his near-total loss of sight in one eye, but the jury only deliberated for less than 2 days before they found the defendant guilty of defective equipment design. They gave our client an award ...
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