While the disease is rare, many are familiar with mesothelioma and its causal relationship to exposure to asbestos, a once common additive to many industrial and commercial products during the mid-20th century. However, many do not realize that mesothelioma is not the only debilitating condition associated with exposure to toxic asbestos.
According to research analyzed by reporters, the case study of one small Montana town highlights just how high the risks of asbestos exposure can be, even if it does not result in developing mesothelioma. The study analyzed the health of the 7,300 residents of Libby, Montana in the years following the closure of a nearby vermiculite mine.
The mine operated for decades until its closure in 1990. The vermiculite mined contained asbestos and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared it a an Environmental Protection Agency Superfund site in 2002. It became one of the largest environmental cleanups in U.S. history.
Asbestos is a fibrous mineral once widely used for its heat-resistant properties. Use of the mineral goes back thousands of years but gained extreme popularity in the 19th and 20th centuries with the advent of the Industrial Revolution.
Thousands Diagnosed with Asbestos-Related Illnesses
Over 2,000 inhabitants were diagnosed with asbestos-related conditions and some 400 have passed away in the last decade. The mine was operated by W.R. Grace & Co. which mined the vermiculite for use infor instillation and various industrial applications
The survey, performed by researchers at Montana State University, found a higher than expected number of individuals suffered from rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease which causes painful swelling, bone erosion and joint deformity. Additionally, the survey recorded higher than expected rates of lupus and scleroderma.
Lupus, like rheumatoid arthritis, is an autoimmune disease that attacks the tissue and often causes a rash and in serious cases may attack the kidneys, blood cells, heart, and lungs. While symptoms may vary from case to case, the most common signs are chest pain when taking a deep breath, joint pain, oral ulcers, fatigue, and fever with no other cause.
Scleroderma was perhaps the most troubling diagnoses made by scientists studying the effects of asbestos on the local townspeople. Scleroderma is an extremely rare skin condition affecting only 200,000 people worldwide every year. The disease causes a hardening of the skin and internal organs.
Nationwide Mesothelioma Attorneys
If you or a loved one developed mesothelioma or another cancer, it could be because of toxic exposure to asbestos. For decades, asbestos companies knew about the toxic effects of asbestos but did nothing to warn victims about the potential risk of exposure.
To discuss your legal options, contact our office to speak to an experienced nationwide mesothelioma attorney about your case. By filing an asbestos mesothelioma lawsuit, you may be able to recover the compensation for medical expenses you and your family need to cope with the difficult circumstances you face.