Protecting Those Who Protected Us This Father’s Day

father and child holding hands

Today, we celebrate the care and commitment of the fathers and father figures in our lives. We began honoring our fathers back in 1910 when the first Father’s Day was acknowledged. Over the last century, sons and daughters have used this opportunity to thank their fathers for their support, love.

We think deeply about the roles of protectors in our lives here at SWMW Law. We fight for justice every day on behalf of fathers who did not receive proper protection on the job and were exposed to asbestos as a result, a harmful substance that causes several types of cancer.

Nearly all of the clients we serve are fathers and grandfathers – or spouses and children of those men – who spent their lives working as boilermakers, carpenters, bricklayers, pipefitters, steamfitters, power plant operatives, military personnel and officers, electricians, insulators, plumbers, and so many more occupations that put them in direct contact with asbestos. Historically, these positions were held by men, who comprise a high percentage of asbestos-related cancer patients.

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is an odorless, tasteless mineral fiber that occurs naturally in rock and soil and is quarried asbestos is then spun and molded into usable forms. Because asbestos fibers are flexible, lightweight, strong, and naturally heat resistant, it was commonly used as insulation or to strengthen other materials. Between the 1950s and the 1980s, nearly every home, school, and workplace across every state contained some sort of asbestos material. For decades, asbestos could be found in insulation, pipes, boilers, roof and floor tiles, sheetrock, plaster, firebrick, paint, and many more materials.

When products made with asbestos are disturbed, whether from installation, cleaning, repair, or removal, millions of undetectable asbestos fibers can be released into the air. The tiny, airborne asbestos fibers can then be inhaled or swallowed. Once lodged inside the lungs, soft tissues, or other organs, asbestos causes lasting and often fatal damage.

At highest risk for first-hand asbestos exposure are those who wore, worked directly with, or alongside asbestos-containing materials; however, we know today that there is no safe amount of asbestos exposure. Even the smallest amount of exposure increases the chances of developing asbestos-related diseases.

But the damage doesn’t end there. Secondary asbestos exposure has caused irreparable harm to the workers’ families who never worked directly with asbestos materials. Those deadly asbestos fibers would find their way to nearby workers, school children, neighborhood residents, and workers’ families at home. And while so many fathers were chasing the American dream to give their families a better life, they now are learning the devastating news that their hard work ended up delivering disease and death to the very loved ones they strove to provide for and to protect.

Asbestos Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma

Asbestos lung cancer appears as tumors inside the lung tissue, which restrict the flow of oxygen into the bloodstream, while mesothelioma develops on the lung’s outer lining, rigidly encasing the lung and causing painful, restricted breathing. Unfortunately, there are few treatment options for these types of cancers, and most people diagnosed with mesothelioma and asbestos lung cancer do not survive.

Asbestos is one of a few factors that can lead to lung cancer, in addition to smoking, radiation therapy, and genetics. However, asbestos is the only external factor known to cause mesothelioma.

It can take anywhere between 15 and 50 years from first exposure to asbestos before symptoms of cancer or mesothelioma occur, and these symptoms can be mistaken for other common ailments. Individuals may initially experience shortness of breath, chest or lower back pain, chronic coughing, difficulty swallowing, and fluid around the lungs.

Advocating for Our Protectors

Despite definitive evidence that asbestos exposure can cause lung cancer and mesothelioma, the U.S. has not yet fully banned the material, as over 60 other countries have done. Industries have known about these dangers since the 1930s. Asbestos lung cancer research and evidence have been known since the 1940s, and mesothelioma knowledge has been collected since the 1960s. However, due to corporate interests prevailing over workers’ safety, the government failed to enact a ban, putting families, workers and fathers at risk to this day.

This Father’s Day, as we do every day of the year, we continue to advocate for those who have been harmed by asbestos, along with their families and caretakers. Asbestos lung cancer and mesothelioma are aggressive and debilitating diseases, and the cost of treatment and care can be devastating to families. The lost wages for the sick and their caretakers can compound a family’s hardships even more. It’s our honor to stand with fathers who deserve our appreciation and protection today.

To learn more about our team, our services, and how we can help you or your loved one affected by asbestos exposure, contact our team today.