Symptoms of Asbestos Exposure Injuries

What is Asbestos and Where Is It Found?

Asbestos is a grouping of 6 natural minerals that are made of soft, flexible fibers. These fibers are resistant to corrosion, heat, fire, and electricity. Although these properties make the mineral useful, it also makes exposure to asbestos dangerous.

The 6 types of asbestos can be categorized as either amphibole and serpentine. Serpentine asbestos fibers are curly and are known as chrysotile—white asbestos. Amphibole asbestos fibers are straight and form jagged shapes. There are five types of amphibole asbestos fibers, including crocidolite, amosite, anthophyllite, tremolite, and actinolite.

The current main exporters of asbestos are Russia, Kazakhstan, and China; however, asbestos is found throughout the world. Asbestos was also mined in the United States mainly on the western and eastern coastal regions from the 1900s until 2002.

Most Common Ways to Be Exposed to Asbestos

The most common way to be exposed to asbestos is through the workplace; however, anyone who encounters asbestos in homes, buildings, and thousands of products ranging from constructional materials to consumer goods may be in danger.

Many workers and maintenance contractors at industrial and commercial jobsites can also be exposed to dangerous levels of asbestos at their workplace. The high-heat environment of jobsites such as steel mills, breweries, power plants, and oil refineries requires heat-resistant protective equipment, some of which is made with asbestos. Sadly, this places these workers at a high risk of asbestos exposure.

Family members of veterans and industrial workers have an increased risk of developing an asbestos exposure-related disease due to secondhand exposure. Secondary exposure accounts for about 20% of Mesothelioma cases and occurs when individuals working in jobsites containing asbestos come home with asbestos fibers on their clothes, skin, or hair. These fibers can cling onto fabrics and skin, which makes them transferable to the worker’s loved ones.

Consumers are also at risk of general exposure in products made with asbestos that were manufactured prior to 2002.  Although some materials such as insulation and siding were largely only in direct use by certain industries, consumer goods such as hair dryers and crock pots at one time contained asbestos. Despite regulations to discontinue the use of asbestos in many of these products, certain products such as insulation may still contain up to 1% asbestos.

Symptoms of Asbestos Exposure-Related Injuries

The Environmental Protection Agency stated that Mesothelioma and Asbestosis are major health issues associated with asbestos exposure.

Mesothelioma

What is Mesothelioma? 

Mesothelioma is a fatal cancer most frequently caused by inhaling asbestos fibers and usually forms in the lining of the lungs, abdomen or heart. About 8 in 10 Mesothelioma patients have suffered asbestos exposure. The average life expectancy for Mesothelioma patients is between 12 and 21 months.

Symptoms of Mesothelioma include:

  • Dry coughing
  • Coughing up blood
  • Shortness of breath
  • Respiratory complications
  • Pain in the chest or abdomen
  • Fever or night sweats
  • Pleural effusion (fluid around the lungs)
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness in the muscles
  • Lumps under the skin of the chest

Asbestosis

What is Asbestosis? 

Asbestosis is a lung disease that is incurable and makes breathing more difficult. The condition is most commonly caused by long-term asbestos exposure. Asbestos exposure comes from inhaling asbestos fibers, which can result in lung scarring and stiffness. As a result of this, the patient’s ability to take deep breaths is limit. Asbestosis is not cancer, but an Asbestosis diagnosis can result in an increased risk of developing an asbestos-related cancer.

Symptoms of Asbestosis include:

  • Persistent dry cough
  • Swelling in the neck or face
  • Cracking sound when breathing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Hypertension
  • Finger clubbing (enlarged fingertips)
  • Nail deformities
  • Loss of weight/appetite

GoldenbergLaw Can Help

If you or a loved one has suffered from Asbestosis and/or Mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos, contact the Minnesota Asbestos Attorneys at GoldenbergLaw. We have over 30 years of experience litigating complex toxic exposure cases, let us provide you with the Gold standard of advocacy that you deserve!

Client Journal: My Journey of Recovery to Healing

A former client of GoldenbergLaw recently wrote a short journal documenting his experience with our firm. This journal was also printed in the Fall 2020 edition of our newsletter, GLAW. His story is below: 

A few years ago, I was notified by a manufacturer that I had received contaminated medical supplies. The use of these medical supplies resulted in a significant and life-changing infection, physical damage, and disability to me. It would take me years to regain a level of functionality and recovery. The impact to my life was felt physically, emotionally, and financially.

I was hospitalized with a life-threatening infection that caused catastrophic damage to my joints and my body. Multiple treatments, therapy and surgeries led to complications, which only increased the physical, emotional, and financial issues I faced. I struggled with depression and anger, often feeling alone and having no one to turn to. A family friend recommended I contact GoldenbergLaw. He felt this law firm would be a good fit for my type of case. I contacted GoldenbergLaw immediately, and they scheduled an intake interview and a meeting based on my availability.

The meeting went well, and Mr. Goldenberg and Mr. Lauricella answered all of my questions and even answered some questions I did not even think to ask. I left the meeting that day feeling like I found a dedicated team that really cared about me and what I was going through. They made themselves available to me at any hour and provided a supportive environment that allowed me to focus on my upcoming surgeries and the long road to recovery. My team at GoldenbergLaw was thorough. They took the time to explain the process and set realistic expectations for my case. They explained that the case process was slow and tedious at times because they needed to obtain information and medical records, they needed to understand the timeline, and they needed to engage experts to build the best possible case. I was in contact with them on a monthly basis (more frequently if I needed to be) providing them with updates on my recovery process and all of the medical appointments, therapy, and surgeries that were scheduled.

As my case progressed I faced many challenges emotionally, physically, and financially. The support I received from my team at GoldenbergLaw allowed me to focus on what was important: dealing with the physical challenges and the adaptations I would need to make in my life in order to pursue a full recovery. The firm’s dedication to my case and the collective expertise they brought on my behalf resulted in a positive outcome. This result allowed me to rebuild my life and to find new ways to thrive despite the ongoing challenges I would continue to face. Even after my case had resolved, my GoldenbergLaw team continued to remain in contact with me. They checked on me and my progress and continued to support me on my road to recovery.

My experience with everyone at GoldenbergLaw was truly amazing. So much so that when a friend reached out and asked if I knew an attorney who could help her I did not hesitate to recommend the GoldenbergLaw firm. I am confident that they will do everything they can to help her reach a similar result.

How GoldenbergLaw Can Help You

GoldenbergLaw has been helping clients receive justice and providing the Gold standard of advocacy for over 30 years. Please contact the Minnesota Defective Medical Supplies Attorneys at GoldenbergLaw and leave the sleepless nights to us.

 

 

Dangers of Exposure to PFAS ‘Forever Chemicals’

Oakdale Drinking Water Contamination

The Star Tribune reported in September 2020 that Oakdale, Minnesota residents who drank water contaminated with PFAS “forever chemicals” experienced increased rates of infertility, premature births and low birth weights. According to the findings, for the past few years, babies in Oakdale were 35% more likely to weigh less than 5.5 pounds at birth, nearly 45% were more likely to be born before 32 weeks’ gestation, and the general fertility rate was 15-25% lower compared to communities where water was not contaminated with PFAS chemicals.

What are Forever Chemicals?

PFAS is short for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances. This grouping of more than 5,000 man-made chemicals are known as ‘forever chemicals’ as a result of the substantial amount of time required for these chemicals to break down in the environment.

PFAS chemicals are identified by their fluorine and carbon bonds which are very difficult to break–leading to the extremely long amount of time it takes for these chemicals to disintegrate. PFAS chemicals have been used in multiple industries since the 1940s due to their ability to repel oil and water. They can be found in Teflon nonstick products, polishes, waxes, clothing, stain and water repellants, paints, cleaning products, food packaging, and firefighting foams.

How Did PFAS Chemicals Contaminate the Water?

The 3M- Oakdale Disposal Site (sometimes called Oakdale or Granada Dump) is located along Old Hwy 5 / County Road 14 in Oakdale–just west of Interstate 694. The disposal site consists of three old chemical waste dump sites (Abresch, Brockman, and Eberle) used during the late 1940s through 1950s for waste burial (including PFAS chemicals), drum reclamation, and the open burning of combustible materials. As a result, ground, surface water, and soil contamination occurred at this site. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) first investigated the 3M- Oakdale Disposal site in 1980 and discovered a variety of hazardous substances were present there–especially volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and PFAS chemicals.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, the waste containing PFAS chemicals that was disposed of in the 3M- Oakdale Disposal Site and former Washington County Landfill seeped into the groundwater and entered Raleigh Creek, which flows from the Oakdale Disposal Site into the city of Lake Elmo. The contaminated water was then discharged to Eagle Point Lake in the Lake Elmo Park Reserve. PFAS chemicals have now been detected in one private well in Oakdale, approximately 300 private wells in Lake Elmo, and one of Lake Elmo’s municipal wells. PFAS chemicals originating primarily from the 3M- Oakdale Disposal Site have been detected in most of the Oakdale municipal wells. In 2006, 3M funded the construction of a water treatment plant for Oakdale’s primary municipal water wells in addition to funding the installation of a new city well outside of the contaminated area in addition to continued clean-up efforts in both Lake Elmo and Oakdale.

What Is Being Done About This?

Peer-reviewed research published in April 2020 in the scientific journal Environmental Health highlighted the causal link between the chemicals and the adverse reproductive impacts. Philippe Grandjean, the leading chemicals researcher at Harvard University, explained that the Washington County suburb has become a “natural experiment” due to the fact that there have been measurable differences in health outcomes before and after the water treatment facility was installed in 2006 to remove the PFAS chemicals from the municipal water supply.

Former Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson believes that the scientific links between the PFAS contamination caused by 3M and the adverse health effects “will be used in litigation that has been filed and is going to be filed, not just here but in other countries as well.” Swanson successfully sued 3M in 2018, resulting in an $850 million settlement for environmental damages.

New research conducted by David Sunding, a natural resources economist at the University of California-Berkeley, was used during the 2018 3M trial in which Sunding was called as an expert witness. The findings showed that from 2001 to 2006, Oakdale mothers exposed to PFAS-contaminated drinking water were 34% more likely to deliver premature babies compared with county mothers who did not drink the contaminated water. Sunding said, “I was always confident in the result–they practically jumped off the screen from the first time we ran the model–and I swore so in my testimony for the [attorney general].”

However, the Minnesota Department of Health stands by its 2018 conclusions that there was not an unusual increase in low birth weights or premature births in Washington County. Jessie Shmool, the Department of Health epidemiologist who coordinated the state’s analysis, said the state used more detailed data over more time points than the studies cited by Swanson’s team.

Lawsuits Against 3M

In September 2020, 3M was sued over ‘forever chemicals’ pollution by the Hopatcong Borough in New Jersey. The federal lawsuit alleges that 3M concealed risks posed by the forever chemicals that were manufactured by the company and that the company had known about the dangers associated with PFAS for years but withheld that information from consumers, government entities, and the public. The lawsuit also alleges that 3M manipulated scientific research on the chemicals, which led to the borough’s drinking water becoming more contaminated. The complaint alleged: “3M marketed and sold PFAS with the knowledge that PFAS would be released into the environment and without warning users or others of the risks of PFAS to the environment and to human health.”

The contamination likely occurred when 3M manufactured and marketed the toxic chemicals for use in the Garden State and the substances ended up contaminating the groundwater that supplies the Hopatcong Borough’s wells which serve approximately 7,000 people. Seven of the wells contain perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). The levels of those PFAS in five of the wells exceed the “maximum contaminant levels” set by New Jersey regulators.

Complaint Alleges 3M Knew PFAS Chemicals are Toxic

The federal lawsuit includes counts for negligence, failure to warn, nuisance and trespassing. The borough is seeking funds for the investigation, treatment, remediation, and monitoring costs related to the contamination. The complaint claims, “3M knew or should have known that in their intended and/or common use, products containing PFAS would very likely injure and/or threaten public health and the environment in New Jersey.”

The complaint alleges that 3M concluded in the 1950s that PFAS are “toxic” based on internal studies and, by the early 1960s, 3M “understood that some PFAS are stable, persist in the environment, and that they do not degrade.” However, according to the complaint “despite the defendant’s specific knowledge of the dangers and serious harm that could result from the continued use, manufacture, marketing, and distribution of PFAS. Defendant failed to provide this information to federal or state regulators, the general public or plaintiff.”

After facing pressure from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 3M started to phase out production of PFOS and PFOA products in 2000 before ceasing production in 2002. However, the Hopatcong Borough’s attorney said: “3M is responsible for contaminating the drinking water of the community served by my client, with the dangerous PFAS chemicals, for decades.”

In response, 3M stated that the company “acted responsibly in connection with products containing PFAS and will vigorously defend our record of environmental stewardship.”

How GoldenbergLaw Can Help You

Our Minnesota Cancer Attorneys have over 30 years of experience representing victims harmed by toxic exposure. Contact our team today for a free consultation, and leave the sleepless nights to us.