Asbestos-related diseases typically have long latency periods spanning decades, meaning workers and their loved ones may have been exposed while working and are now facing adverse health effects.
Asbestos once played a large role in American manufacturing and production for its heat and chemical resistance, and can still be found in building materials and products workers in various industries use today. Unfortunately, the workers who handle those materials and finished products are at high risk of occupational exposure caused by loose asbestos fibers.
Though asbestos use has declined, small amounts of the mineral are still legally allowed in certain products, including building materials and automotive parts. Since the mineral is not banned and was utilized so heavily in the past, workers across various industries are still at risk of exposure today. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, an estimated 27 million employees between 1940 and 1979 were exposed to asbestos in the workplace. The World Health Organization suggests that each year, more than 125 million people worldwide are exposed to asbestos while working. The most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows approximately 40,100 people died from malignant mesothelioma between 2005 and 2014. Of those deaths, nearly 70% were work-related. Asbestos-related diseases typically have long latency periods spanning decades, meaning workers and their loved ones may have been exposed while working and are now facing adverse health effects. For those currently being exposed to asbestos on the job, they may not be diagnosed with a disease for several more decades.