Asbestos exposure and mesothelioma in Wisconsin

Asbestos exposure has been linked to mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer. As such, Wisconsin and the federal government highly regulate asbestos exposure.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral deposit in the earth's surface that dates back to ancient times. Its popularity soared during the Industrial Age, when it was discovered to be fire-retardant. Car and building manufacturers jumped on the asbestos bandwagon and used the material extensively in automobile assembly and construction. Now, science has shown asbestos causes harm to people and can even lead to death.

How are people exposed to asbestos?

People are exposed to asbestos when its fibers are released into the air, usually by demolition, fire or some other destructive incident. Asbestos can also be found in insulation and other fire-retardant materials. Asbestos exposure can be accidental or the result of negligence. For example, a property owner was aware of the danger and did not inform the tenants or construction project manager that asbestos was present.

How does asbestos make people sick?

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry reports that asbestos fibers can become lodged in lung tissue when inhaled, and once they are stayed, they remain in the body for life. These fibers injure a person via inflammation and scarring, and can lead to serious diseases.

What types of diseases does asbestos cause?

Asbestos often leads to asbestosis, wherein the fibers lodge in the lungs, making breathing difficult; as well as lung cancer and mesothelioma.

What is mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a rare cancer caused by asbestos exposure. This is why people hear the two terms put together frequently. Mesothelioma poses particular danger to victims who contract the disease because it primarily occurs in the chest cavity lining, which enables the cancer to spread more quickly and easily to other parts of the abdomen.

Mesothelioma is also unique in that it can take years to diagnose. In fact, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry says, "Most cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed 30 years or more after the first exposure to asbestos." This makes it difficult to know that a person has been exposed and, consequently, the person continues to inhale dangerous asbestos fibers.

If it takes so long for a diagnosis, do people with mesothelioma have recourse?

Yes. Wisconsin law regulates asbestos exposure in old and new buildings. In fact, persons in Green Bay, Manitowoc and Sheboygan alongside the rest of the state cannot abate asbestos without proper certification. Unfortunately, employers and building owners oftentimes ignore the rules and expose people to asbestos.

Should someone contract mesothelioma or other complications due to asbestos exposure, it is wise to seek qualified legal counsel to determine whether a person has the option to recover his or her damages. This includes family members of those who have died from mesothelioma.