Asbestos is a fibrous mineral known for its insulating and flame-retardant properties. For these reasons, asbestos was once a key component of most insulating products and many industrial and construction products and was widely used in shipbuilding. Asbestos was widely used in Italy and around the world.
The problem with asbestos is that its fibres break down into a fine dust that, if inhaled, forms deposits in the lungs that can cause serious and even fatal disease. Both direct and indirect exposure to asbestos can put the health of an individual at risk.
Today, there are more than 3,000 products in daily use that may contain asbestos, but its widespread use in Italy ended in the 1990s with the passing of law no. 257/1992, which prohibited the extraction, import, export, marketing and production of asbestos, asbestos products and products containing asbestos.
Asbestos-related diseases: risk profile
The people most at risk of developing mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases are workers who were directly exposed to its fibres in the undertaking of their duties. This particularly applies to those who worked with asbestos many years ago, but even minimal exposure can cause mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases. There are several documented cases whereby the partner or child of a worker exposed to asbestos at work, has developed asbestos-related diseases. In these cases, the family member was exposed to asbestos particles from fibres transported on work clothes: overalls and/or shoes. This type of exposure to asbestos is called “domestic exposure”, or “indirect exposure” and can be as fatal as direct exposure with asbestos in the workplace.
Asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma typically have a long latency period of up to 30-40 years, which means that people exposed to asbestos decades ago may only now show symptoms of the disease.
Malignant mesothelioma is an extremely aggressive cancer whereby malignant tumour cells develop in the membrane that lines the chest, the abdominal cavity, or the heart. Asbestos exposure is the only known cause of this devastating disease. The mean age of patients with mesothelioma is 50 to 70 years. It more typically afflicts men due to the widespread use of asbestos in the industrial sector. But women are not excluded. Domestic asbestos exposure is one of the main causes of mesothelioma in women. There are three types of malignant mesothelioma: Epithelioid – the most common type of mesothelioma -, Sarcomatoid – also known as fibrous mesothelioma, Mixed – also known as biphasic mesothelioma because it involves both epithelioid cells and sarcomatoid cells.
Other asbestos-related cancers and diseases
As well as malignant mesothelioma, the most common asbestos-related diseases among workers and their families are lung cancer and asbestosis.
Asbestos exposure is known to directly cause lung cancer. The combination of asbestos exposure and smoking is particularly deadly. Scientific studies published by the Surgeon General of the United States suggest that people who smoke and who were exposed to asbestos in the workplace are 90 times more likely to develop lung cancer than people who smoke but have never been exposed to asbestos.
Asbestosis is a lung disease caused by inhaling asbestos dust. It causes inflammation and scarring (fibrosis) of the lungs and can seriously affect a person’s health. It can even be fatal in some cases.
A diagnosis of asbestosis should therefore never be taken lightly, both because it is a manifestation of a serious disease, and because it may be a premonitory sign of a mesothelioma diagnosis.
The effects of asbestos manifest years, or often several decades, after exposure.
The dispute in question concerns civil liability from exposure to a carcinogen. This type of legal action is often brought against manufacturers, distributors and suppliers of asbestos, a known carcinogen used simultaneously in several products. Mesothelioma cases typically involve people facing a terminal disease and terrible hardship. Mesothelioma often manifests a long time after exposure to asbestos. In fact, it can typically take several decades for the symptoms of the disease to appear.
Other asbestos-related diseases include lung cancer and asbestosis.
The Brandi-Carabellese law firm holds manufacturers, distributors and anyone who has marketed asbestos responsible for the onset of mesothelioma, proportional to their level of participation. Our lawyers have successfully represented many clients (Italians and Europeans) who worked for American oil companies, thus forming a precedent in United States law.