Article guest-written by staff at MesotheliomaLawyerCenter.org
With a large presence in the industrial, manufacturing, chemical, and mining industries, Missouri has seen a high rate of asbestos-related illnesses over the past decades. Adults over the age of 45, in particular, who worked in the aforementioned industries, run a high risk of being affected by the devastating results of asbestos exposure.
Asbestos Illnesses in Missouri
According to the Environmental Working Group, by 1999, over 2,000 people in Missouri died from asbestos-related diseases. The majority of deaths occurred in people over 45 years of age, most of whom once worked at job sites that used asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) in machinery, construction parts, equipment and more.
The most common asbestos illness in Missouri is malignant mesothelioma. Mesothelioma develops when asbestos fibers are ingested, typically after prolonged exposure. Since asbestos fibers are thin, odorless, and cannot be detected by the human eye, most people have no idea if when they’ve ingested it. Over time, the fibers cause damage to the internal organs. The pleural area is the most common area of the body that asbestos fibers attack, although it can easily spread and attack the abdominal area and other vital organs.
Mesothelioma tends to lie dormant for 20 to 50 years, but once the first symptoms kick in, the disease progresses rapidly, causing severe, life-threatening health issues.
Asbestosis is another serious consequence of asbestos exposure, and although it’s not quite as dangerous as mesothelioma, it can cause serious damage. Per the American Lung Association, asbestosis can cause serious lung scarring, leading to difficulties in breathing and chronic coughing.
The good news, however, is that if the asbestos fibers are detected in time, asbestosis may not be life-threatening. Although there have been deaths associated with asbestosis in Missouri, the chances are reduced through managed treatment, such as oxygen therapy.
Asbestos in Missouri Homes
In addition to the risk of asbestos exposure at work, many Missouri residents are at risk in their own homes. Up until the late 1970s, there were no regulations on asbestos use, and in turn, a myriad of construction companies used ACMs when building residential homes. Many of these homes are still in use today.
It’s important to note, however, that there is no reason to panic and move if you live in an older home. Asbestos is dangerous when it becomes airborne, which usually only happens when renovations are done or when maintenance is done on older home appliances that contain ACMs. Therefore, to eliminate your chances of exposure, never renovate or repair anything in your own if there is a chance that asbestos may be present. Contact a certified asbestos abatement professional instead.
Missouri Residents Take Legal Action
Because of the sheer amount of asbestos-related deaths and illnesses in Missouri, many people have sought legal justice against the manufacturers and suppliers of ACMs. Since asbestos is considered a hazardous material, manufacturers are legally obligated to inform those who work around it. EWG states that over 1,400 Missouri have currently sought legal justice after asbestos exposure.
Community Resources in Missouri
The state of Missouri takes asbestos pollution and exposure seriously. Consequently, there are a number of regulations that must be followed at all times. For more information, contact Missouri’s Air Pollution Control Program at 573-751-4817.
If you feel you may have been exposed to asbestos, it’s important to seek proper medical treatment as soon as possible. The Alvin J. Siteman Care Center in St. Louis, is backed by the National Cancer Institute, and specializes in helping those who have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness. For information, contact the hospital at 314-362-8020.