Asbestos is naturally occurring fiber consisting of silicate materials found in some rocks. Asbestos is very desirable because of its physical properties such as sound absorption, fire resistance, tensile strength, electrical and chemical resistance. As it was naturally occurring and found in abundance in nature itself, and on top of that it had very desirable industrial physical properties, it quickly found its way to become a chief raw material for industrial and building materials such as fireproofing, roofing shingles, insulation materials and friction products during late 19th century.
Back in old days, asbestos was considered a miracle for industrial uses until its real dangers were known to man. It came with a big price tag later on. Many people have been killed due to a deadly cancer caused by exposure to asbestos fibre. Prolonged exposure of asbestos has been linked to a deadly form of cancer, Mesothelioma.
Mesothelium is the protective layer of the internal organs of human body. Mesothelioma is the cancer that develops in the cell of mesothelium. The most common site for mesothelioma development is the outer lining of the lungs, also known as pleura. The other sites are the lining of the abdominal cavity (peritoneum), heart (pericardium) and testis (tunica vaginalis). Though mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer, exposure to asbestos has been closely linked with developing mesothelioma.
Development of mesothelioma due to asbestos inhalation does not manifest immediately. It takes roughly 20 – 30 years before the mesothelioma can occur. The asbestos fiber can stay dormant in the body for many years before mesothelioma can be diagnosed. At that point, medical doctors have limited options left for the treatment. Moreover, the price of mesothelioma treatment is enormous and beyond insurance coverage. As the result, asbestos exposure and mesothelioma has been an issue for many legal cases.
The correlation for asbestos exposure and developing mesothelioma has been the cause of one of the most expensive and longest running lawsuit in the world history. Asbestos production, its use including its import and export has been banned in many countries except few; India, Nepal, UAE. The company involved with asbestos mining and manufacturing asbestos containing products have gone bankrupt but the cases involving mesothelioma and its compensation has been on going. In 1999, the US passed the “Fairness in Asbestos Compensation Act”. According to this act, the workers who worked with asbestos should receive compensation for the health damages. As many companies have gone bankrupt, there exists only a limited amount of money to be distributed. This has been the cause of many ongoing court cases and resolution of the mesothelioma related cases.