What Is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring heat and corrosion-resistant mineral that has been linked to many health conditions, including lung cancer. The danger in asbestos comes primarily from breathing dust or fibers containing asbestos, most of which are not visible to the naked eye.

There has been a move away from asbestos-containing materials since 1970, when Congress passed the Clean Air Act. That Act banned the use of asbestos in most of its sprayable forms, but stopped short of banning the mineral completely.

Who Is At Risk?

Asbestos may be used as an insulating material, and many people who spent large amounts of time in buildings constructed with asbestos are not aware of its presence. This means that several groups may be at an elevated risk of asbestos-induced lung disease, including:

An image of a sign on a concrete wall that says 'Danger, contains asbestos'

  • Demolition teams
  • Insulators
  • Auto industry workers
  • Navy veterans
  • Shipyard workers
  • Construction workers
  • Firefighters
  • Asbestos miners
  • Asbestos plant workers

Diseases Linked to Asbestos Exposure:

Some of the dangerous health conditions associated with breathing or ingesting asbestos are:

  • Mesothelioma, a condition for which asbestos is the only known cause
  • Asbestosis
  • Lung cancer

Asbestos Exposure is Widespread

While the human body is capable of fighting the effects of a small amount of asbestos, significant asbestos particles can end up scarring the lungs and changing cells in a way that makes them susceptible to cancer.

Most people do not realize just how prevalent asbestos is today despite well-established links to lung cancer and other health conditions. The United States has imported more than 6,000 tons of asbestos since 2011. Asbestos is used in many materials where insulation and resistance to corrosion and heat are important. Some material where asbestos may be present include:

  • Attic and wall insulation
  • Vinyl flooring or other vinyl materials
  • Pipe insulation
  • Heat-resistant fabrics
  • Insulation around furnaces

The cancer-causing mineral is also present throughout schools, places of work, and homes still today, unbeknownst to most of those who occupy such buildings.

What Is Radon?

Radon arguably poses an even greater threat than asbestos, as exposure to the radioactive gas is the second-leading cause of lung cancer. Exposure to radon leads to approximately 21,000 cancer deaths each year, with about 2,900 of those deaths being people who never smoked.

Image of a warning sign with the words 'RN Radon' next to it

Radon gas is produced by the natural breakdown of the uranium, thorium, or radium in soil, water, and rock. It is an odorless, radioactive gas that is harmful to breathe, because it can cause cancer even at relatively low levels.

Experts recognize soil gas infiltration as the most significant cause of residential radon exposure, but it can also diffuse into the air or contaminate groundwater. Most hardware stores carry radon testing kits to determine if the radon levels in your home or office are unsafe.

Who Is At Risk?

Your odds of contracting lung cancer depend on your living and working arrangements, and how often those in charge conduct regular radon tests. Some people that may be at an elevated risk of radon-induced lung cancer include:

  • Those who live in a garden-level apartment
  • Those who work underground, especially those who harvest uranium
  • Those who spend lots of time in basements
  • Anyone who lives, works, or spends time in a building not regularly tested for radon levels
  • Those who spend significant amounts of time in indoor spaces where the local soil, rock, or water conditions have led to unsafe levels of radon

Truly, anyone can be at risk of unsafe radon exposure if building owners, property managers, and safety officials do not conduct radon tests regularly. The consequences of such exposure cannot be overstated. The chances of getting lung cancer from radon exposure are high, as it is a serious hazard.

What Are the Signs of Radon Poisoning?

Radon poisoning typically occurs without symptoms; you cannot see or smell radon. It can take anywhere from five to 25 years for radon poisoning to manifest as lung cancer, and it is important you note and be aware of the symptoms of lung cancer if they arise.

A man holding his chest looking like he's in pain

Some potential signs of lung cancer include:

  • Frequent infections such as bronchitis and/or pneumonia
  • A persistent cough that does not go away after an extended period of time
  • Coughing up blood
  • Chest pain and/or tightness
  • Hoarseness
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Headaches
  • Bone pain

A Brief History of Radon Exposure

A brief history to understand the danger of radon exposure:

  • In the 1950s, scientists found that underground workers mining for uranium were dying from lung cancer at extremely high rates.
  • By the 1980s, it was clear the risk was also present in homes.
  • In 2009, the World Health Organization officially stated that radon is a global health risk and released a handbook on indoor radon, which can be found at the bottom of this page. Experts assert that most cases of radon-induced lung cancers are caused by low-to-medium dose exposures.

Those diagnosed with lung cancer despite not smoking for any significant period of time, or ever, may likely be a victim of radon or other chemical exposure. Most hardware stores sell radon detection kits, but more extensive testing may be necessary if you plan to take legal action against a liable party who failed to protect you from radioactive radon gas. Other chemicals known to cause cancer include arsenic, asbestos, chromium, and nickel.

Contact Us Today

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with lung cancer and believe that asbestos or radon could be a cause, we can help. Call our team at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today at (800) 236-1888 to discuss your case.

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