Malignant mesothelioma is a rare, aggressive form of cancer that affects the protective lining of many of the internal organs of the body. It is usually caused by exposure to asbestos. Most people who develop mesothelioma have worked in jobs where they inhaled asbestos, such as railroad workers. It has even been suggested that simple exposures such as washing clothes of a family member who worked with asbestos can increased risk for developing mesothelioma. Symptoms may include shortness of breath, chest pain, and sudden weight loss. Although mesothelioma can be detected with a chest X-ray or a CT scan, it should be confirmed by a pathologist.

Asbestos has been classified as a known human carcinogen (a substance that causes cancer) by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the EPA, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Although it is clear that the health risks from asbestos exposure increase with heavier exposure and longer exposure time, investigators have found asbestos-related diseases in individuals with only brief exposures. Generally, those who develop asbestos-related diseases show no signs of illness for a long time after their first exposure. It can take from 10 to 40 years or more for symptoms of an asbestos-related condition to appear.

Today, the official position of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the U.S. EPA is that the “permissible exposure limits” set forth by U.S. regulations are adequate to prevent most asbestos-related non-malignant disease, but they are NOT adequate to prevent or protect against asbestos-related cancers such as mesothelioma. NIOSH Working Group Paper from the Centers for Disease Control, 1980. The disease causes an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 deaths worldwide each year and it can be fatal within 14 months following diagnosis.

Railroad workers who have been exposed to asbestos are at risk for developing mesothelioma and other asbestos-related cancers. If you would like to consult with a railroad mesothelioma lawyer, please contact us today.

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