Our nation’s first Father’s Day celebration was also held on June 19—in the year 1910, but only in a single state and decades before it became a national holiday. According to most sources, credit for the holiday goes to a young girl in Washington state who was raised along with her siblings by her single father after the death of her mother. The celebration she advocated for fell in June, the birth month of her father.
Today, SWMW Law is honoring all our fathers and those who have shown us a father’s care, provision, protection, and guidance. We know that while a father as a primary or single caregiver may have been extremely rare at the turn of the 20th century, today, the role of fathers has evolved, along with our appreciation of their gifts.
We’re also deeply aware of the historical role of men as providers working outside the home to support their immediate and extended families. As a law firm with strong practice areas in asbestos lung cancer and mesothelioma, we have seen first-hand the struggles of many fathers who have labored in metal work, naval maintenance, manufacturing, construction, bricklaying, pipefitting, coal mining, and many other professions, who have exposed them to asbestos. The ravages to their health caused by toxic asbestos not only affect their bodies but the lives of their family and community members. Worse yet is the betrayal of manufacturers, corporations, and insurance companies who knew of asbestos’ dangers but failed to protect fathers and families.
The Dangers of Asbestos
Once a valued building material for its many desirable qualities like heat-resistance and strength, we now know that asbestos is a toxic substance that damages tissues and causes cancers. Between the 1950s and the 1980s, nearly every home, school, and workplace across every state contained some sort of asbestos material. Because asbestos fibers are flexible, lightweight, strong, and naturally heat resistant, it was commonly used as insulation or to strengthen other materials.
However, 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 individuals 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.
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.
Failing to Protect Workers
Generations of laborers, who were predominantly male, showed up diligently every day and were either unaware that asbestos was in the materials they handled, or they had that information withheld from them by corporations more interested in cost savings than worker safety. With definitive evidence that asbestos exposure can cause lung cancer and mesothelioma, the U.S. tried to fully ban the material, which over 60 other countries did. Industries have known about these dangers since the 1930s. Asbestos lung cancer research and evidence has 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 and workers at risk to this day.
From homes, workplaces, and schools, in addition to the asbestos contained inside thousands of products sold in the U.S, many people have been and continue to be exposed to asbestos. In the U.S. alone, asbestos causes over 39,000 deaths each year. People have not only suffered from illnesses, but also loss of income and devastating medical costs.
On Father’s Day, we honor the risk many fathers take to provide for their families. And we fiercely believe that fathers themselves deserve protection. Honoring fathers is what we do every day at SWMW Law by raising awareness of their struggles, fighting for accountability, and advocating for their care and compensation.
To learn more about our team, our services, and how we can serve you or your loved one affected by asbestos exposure, contact our team today.