What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous silicate mineral that is mined from deposits around the world. Asbestos is tough, resistant to corrosion, an excellent insulator, and cheap to produce. These characteristics made asbestos well suited for a wide variety of applications throughout the railroad industry. The railroads began using asbestos shortly after industrial production of asbestos began, and before long, the railroad industry was heavily reliant on products manufactured with asbestos.
Does Asbestos Cause Cancer?
Yes. There are six different types of asbestos. All six are classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as Group 1 carcinogens.1 Group 1 carcinogens are toxins that are known to cause cancer. Examples of other Group 1 carcinogens include benzene, plutonium, and tobacco.
How Much Asbestos Exposure is Dangerous?
The only safe level of asbestos exposure is zero. Even small doses of asbestos exposure can result in the development of mesothelioma.
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How do Exposures to Asbestos Occur?
Most dangerous exposures to asbestos occur through ingestion or inhalation. As asbestos materials deteriorate they break down and release asbestos fibers into the air. Once asbestos dust becomes airborne, it can float in the air for days. Airborne asbestos dust is easily inhaled or ingested. If inhaled, asbestos can be permanently trapped in your lungs. If swallowed, asbestos can be permanently trapped in your digestive tract. Airborne exposures to asbestos can be particularly severe when working in unventilated environments without respirators or other protective equipment.
These types of exposures typically occur in occupational settings. However, this is not always the case. Asbestos fibers also cling to clothing. Many individuals, who have never worked around asbestos materials in their life, develop cancer as a result of being exposed to the asbestos brought into their homes on the clothing of loved ones.
When did the Railroads Know that Asbestos Causes Cancer?
Asbestos was identified as a toxin by the Association of American Railroads in 1937. By 1958, railroads knew asbestos caused cancer. After 1960, it was medically accepted that asbestos definitely causes mesothelioma.
Which Railroad Workers Suffered the Worst Exposures?
Traditionally, locomotive machinists, electricians, pipefitters and car department workers had some of the worst asbestos exposures. Those railroad employees performed hands-on work, which involved cutting and shaping of asbestos containing parts, such as gaskets and brake shoes. But there were also asbestos exposure routes for locomotive engineers and conductors and track department workers. Asbestos insulation was used throughout locomotives and railroad buildings and bridges were literally constructed out of asbestos-containing materials. And when the railroads remediated asbestos from the locker room floors and ceilings, the contractors often negligently spread the asbestos dust throughout the work space.
What can I do if I was Exposed to Asbestos?
If you or a loved one was exposed to asbestos and have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, the attorneys at Hughes Law Offices may be able to help. These are complicated cases that require experienced attorneys. While you and your loved ones focus on recovery, let us do the work needed to prove your case. Contact Hughes Law Offices today at 312-877-5588 for a free attorney consultation.