ASBESTOS EXPOSURE AND MESOTHELIOMA
In PWHD’s hometown of Newport News, nearly one thousand people have been diagnosed with mesothelioma in the last thirty-five years. The firm has represented most of these victims and hundreds of victims who were diagnosed in other Tidewater Virginia hospitals including Hampton, Williamsburg, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Suffolk.
Due to its heat resistance and insulation properties, was used in thousands of products, including gaskets, packing, drywall, ceilings, pumps, valves, thermal insulation, boilers, turbines, blowers, automotive and industrial brakes and clutches, floor tiles and more. Working with these products using normal work practices caused the asbestos in the products to be released into the worker’s breathing zone to be inhaled by the worker.
Asbestos is the only cause of malignant mesothelioma. Unfortunately, throughout the 20th century, asbestos was very popular with manufacturers due to its heat resistance, availability, and relatively inexpensive cost. Even after learning that asbestos caused deadly diseases like asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma, companies continued to manufacture asbestos-containing products such as gaskets, packing, thermal insulation and lagging, pumps, valves, distilling units, fans, generators, turbines, brakes, clutches, electrical components, plasters, mastics, and refractories. Consequently, malignant mesothelioma, asbestos related cancer and asbestosis have reached epidemic levels in Virginia.
Anyone who comes into contact with asbestos dust and fibers may be at risk. However, certain occupations have shown a high incidence of asbestos related disease due to their consistent and regular work with asbestos products. These include machinists and Navy machinist mates, pipefitters, pipecoverers, steamfitters, drywall and sheetrock workers, maintenance workers, automotive and equipment mechanics, electricians, boiler workers, plumbers, roofers, riggers, and shipyard workers to name a few. Members of the same household as asbestos workers have also shown an increased risk of asbestos related diseases.
The shipbuilding industry in Virginia is one of the primary sources of asbestos exposure. Because of the numerous shipyards, such as the Newport News Shipyard (the largest private shipyard in the world), the Norfolk Naval Shipyard (the largest naval shipyard in the world), the Horne Brothers Shipyard, Colonna Shipyard, Metro Machine, Norfolk Shipbuilding and Drydock Company, and others, hundreds of Virginia shipyard workers and dozens of family members have died from mesothelioma.
The many Virginia shipyards, especially in and around Norfolk and Newport News, are also responsible for exposing the crewmembers of Navy ships to asbestos. Many have since contracted asbestos related cancers such as mesothelioma. Whether aboard ship, while stationed in Virginia or based in Newport News, or during an overhaul in the Norfolk Navy Yard, the close quarters and poor ventilation, along with ubiquitous use of asbestos materials, have caused thousands of cases of Mesothelioma in Navy Veterans.
Other leading environments for exposure include large industrial plants such as the Yorktown Amoco refinery, the Yorktown boiler plant, the Hopewell Allied Chemical plant, various Virginia Power Company plants and others. Automobile repair shops are also sources of asbestos exposure through brakes, clutches, and gasket work.
In addition to the foregoing environments, however, there have been many instances of “take-home” exposure through dust brought home on workers’ clothes and personal belongings.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestos lung cancer, or asbestosis, we can help.