The aftermath of asbestos usage in the United States has left an often tragic and even devastating path of destruction for exposure victims. For close to 100 years, between the late 1800s and mid- to late-1900s, millions of people were unknowingly exposed to a toxic and potentially fatal material. Many were exposed at work, while others came into contact with asbestos in their own homes-either from building components used during construction or through a process called secondary exposure.
Life after asbestos goes on with no detectable consequences for many people. But for the small and unfortunate portion that develops an asbestos-linked illness-such as asbestosis, mesothelioma or other forms of cancer-life is never the same again. All of these chronic and pervasive conditions cause significant physical and emotional distress for the victim-and in the case of mesothelioma cancers, death.
There is much information available about asbestos, its consequences and options for legal recourses. To offer victims of asbestos an easy and straightforward guide that is designed to cover a myriad of topics-from veteran exposure and cutting-edge treatment options to choosing a legal representative and taking your personal injury case to court.
PART XXI: UNDERSTANDING ALL POSSIBLE MESOTHELIOMA CAUSES
Although asbestos is empirically linked to at least 80 percent of cases, medical science has identified five other possible mesothelioma causes. However, readers are cautioned that research into these additional causes is limited and largely inconclusive; as of now, the vast majority of mesothelioma victims can safely attribute their illness to past asbestos exposure. Even in the approximately 20 percent of cases in which asbestos exposure could not be confirmed, it is still suspected most of the time.
Other potential mesothelioma causes currently being investigated include:
Familial clusters of mesothelioma cancer have been noted by researchers since the 1980s, but early studies of those affected revealed related occupational trades amongst all victims-thus making the origin of the connection unclear. Still, it is suspected that some individuals are genetically predisposed to mesothelioma-though, to what degree genetics play a role in the development of the disease is unknown.
- SV40 Virus
Originating from contaminated polio vaccines administered to children between 1955 and 1963, the Simian 40 virus (SV40) appeared in early studies-conducted during the mid-1970s-to be an identified factor in some mesothelioma cases unrelated to asbestos. More recent research, however, produced contradictory results. The American Cancer Society (ACS) currently lists SV40 as possible factor increasing the likelihood of a mesothelioma diagnosis.
The ACS has also identified a certain type of mineral, similar in chemical compound to asbestos, as a possible cause of mesothelioma cases in isolated parts of Turkey. Erionite was found to be a common mineral present in the soil of regions of the country with unusually high mesothelioma rates.
- Carbon Nanotubes
Carbon nanotubes (CNTs), which have useful applications in nanotechnology and electronics, are revered for their high degree of thermal conductivity and frequently used in consumer goods from auto parts to recreation sporting equipment. Recent research-conducted in lab mice-has shown that when handled without appropriate protective gear, CNTs may pose a similar mesothelioma-causing exposure threat to asbestos.
Finally, the ACS acknowledges amongst possible non-asbestos mesothelioma causes, a certain type of radiation exposure that occurred during some physician-conducted chest x-rays. Through the 1950s, a material called thorium dioxide was injected before the procedure, which exposed patients to high levels of radiation. A handful of published reports have connected those procedures with the subsequent development of mesothelioma, though more corroboration is needed for conclusive results to be established.