What You Should Know About West Virginia Asbestos Exposure
Asbestos is a group of silicate-based minerals mined from the earth for decades. It’s strength, resistance to heat, and cost-effectiveness made asbestos a valuable building material that was used heavily throughout the 20th century.
Asbestos is composed of long, thin, needle-like fibers. Disturbing asbestos or other asbestos-containing materials can the release tiny, microscopic fibers into the air. Workers and others who breathed asbestos fibers over many years have developed severe and fatal asbestos-related diseases.
Asbestos-related deaths in West Virginia
The inhalation of airborne asbestos fibers is the cause of three significant diseases:
- Mesothelioma – A rare and typically fatal cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. The cancer develops in the mesothelium, a thin membrane lining the lungs, heart, chest cavity, gastrointestinal system, and reproductive organs. People with mesothelioma may take decades to present symptoms from the time they were exposed to asbestos. The average latency period is approximately 30 years.
- Lung Cancer – Asbestos-caused lung cancer occurs when asbestos fibers are inhaled and trapped in the lung. The sharp fibers cannot be expelled and over time become deeply embedded in lung tissue. Scarring occurs, causing fibroids which can develop into cancerous tumors. Heavy exposure to asbestos significantly increases chances of developing lung cancer.
- Asbestosis – While not a cancer, asbestosis is a severe disease caused by inhaling asbestos. The fibers lodge in the lungs and thicken or calcify, causing irritation and scarring. Asbestosis makes breathing extremely painful and often leads to death from lung or heart failure.
From 1999-2017, over 3,000 people in West Virginia have died due to an asbestos-related disease. According to the CDC, West Virginia has a higher-than-average mesothelioma mortality rate of 14 people per million annually.
People in West Virginia were exposed to asbestos in the workplace by inhaling and touching asbestos materials, in public use of products containing asbestos, and through transfer from an asbestos-affected family members’ clothing.
Industries that used Asbestos in their production process
Several industries in West Virginia used asbestos in production, equipment, and as safety protection for workers.
Coal mining employs an estimated 12,000 workers in West Virginia. There are several known natural asbestos deposits in the state. Miners were at risk from asbestos contaminated coal as they mined, cut, and processed coal from over 117 coal seams. Coal mining companies often used equipment and materials containing asbestos
Glass manufacturing facilities use asbestos coverings, and insulations for boilers, pipes, gaskets, valves, cement blocks due to the high oven heats necessary to produce molten glass. Worker’s wore protective clothing that contained asbestos to protect from heat and fire..
West Virginia’s Power plants used asbestos material in the building wall structure and equipment due to its heat-resistant properties. Worker’s clothing may also have been lined with asbestos.
Machinery in steel mills required heat-resistant asbestos to melt and shape steel rods and beams. Some of the most dangerous areas for workers include coke ovens, blast furnaces, basic oxygen furnaces, strip mills, and the open hearth department.
The asbestos attorneys at GPW have represented thousands of mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestos-disease victims. In addition to outstanding trial experience, our asbestos attorneys are supported by a large and dedicated staff, many of whom have been with GPW for 15 or more years. Our asbestos bankruptcy department knows the ins and outs of asbestos trust filing, getting maximum claim payments and doing so quickly and efficiently.
When selecting a mesothelioma law firm, all these things are crucial to consider. GPW’s combination of evidence, experience, and expertise culminate in the aggressive representation of our clients. Contact us today for a free case review.