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Should We Be Worried About Asbestos in the Water?

Worldwide, asbestos-laced concrete water pipes are crumbling, and deadly fibers are seeping into drinking water.

According to the EPA, more than 630,000 miles of asbestos cement pipe are buried across the United States. There are growing concerns that as these aging pipes near the end of their expected lifespan, they will deteriorate, leading to more breakages. But even before that stage, after decades of water running through them, the walls of the pipes can soften due to calcium from the cement leaching out, leading to corrosion. According to one study of 50-year-old pipes in Slovenia, this allows asbestos fibers to be released into the water.

"My concern is that it is in drinking water," says Arthur Frank, professor of public health and professor of medicine at Drexel University in Philadelphia. "The risk may not be great. But it is generally accepted that there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos."

How Asbestos Spreads

Asbestos is fireproof and waterproof. In fact, back in the day, builders usually laced concrete with asbestos to waterproof it. Cost-effective waterproof concrete finally became available in the 1970s. So, most residential and commercial driveways and walkways contain asbestos. Cracked concrete isn’t just unsightly and a fall hazard. It is also an environmental hazard.

Since asbestos is waterproof, it travels great distances through water pipes and also after floods or other such disasters. As a result, people miles away from a mine, manufacturing facility, or other asbestos hot spot could need an asbestos exposure lawyer.

Mostly, however, asbestos fibers travel through the air. These tiny fibers (about 200,000 fibers can fit on a penny) remain airborne for about seventy-two hours before they fall to earth. These fibers could infect:

  • Asbestos Workers: Before 1980, most asbestos providers covered up the health risks, so they could keep using this cheap substance. So, they usually didn’t provide complete PPE (personal protective equipment) to asbestos workers, or they downplayed its importance.
  • Non-Asbestos Workers: Airborne asbestos fibers float into common areas, like parking lots and cafeterias. Therefore, they could infect people who don’t work in asbestos-laced buildings, like office workers and government inspectors.
  • Ambient Exposure Victims: Ambient (environmental) exposure victims also include take-home asbestos victims. Workers often unintentionally carry fivers home on their bodies, in their hair, on their clothes, or in their vehicles.

These individuals often have multiple legal options, such as workers’ compensation, a negligence action, and a bankruptcy victim compensation fund claim. A nationwide asbestos lawyer can provide more information.

Asbestos Exposure Illnesses

Cancer, mostly pleural mesothelioma, and lung disease, mostly asbestosis, are the two most common asbestos exposure-related illnesses.

Pleural mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive form of heart-lung cancer. Tumors form in the mesothelial lining between the heart and lungs. Then they grow slowly and steadily over about the next fifty or sixty years. Therefore, by the time victims show signs of illness, such as radical weight loss or chronic pain, the cancer is so advanced that it is almost impossible to treat.

Making matters worse, misdiagnosis is common in cancer cases, especially environmental cancer cases. Most doctors use lifestyle and genetic markers to diagnose cancer. Most asbestos exposure victims have no such markers.

Asbestosis is a lung disease that blocks narrow breathing passages in the lungs. Inhaled asbestos fibers burn these passages. The resulting scar tissue builds up and blocks them. As a result, these victims have severe trouble breathing, even while resting.

The latency period for asbestosis is about as long as the pleural mesothelioma latency period. Nevertheless, some asbestosis treatments are available, such as a radical lung transplant. The bad news is that many asbestosis victims are in their 70s and in overall poor health. So, they are not good candidates for radical surgical procedures.

Work With a Thorough Attorney

Mesothelioma victims need and deserve significant compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced nationwide mesothelioma lawyer, contact the Throneberry Law Group. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no insurance or money.

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