Mesothelioma is a life-threatening illness that’s primarily caused by exposure to asbestos, a naturally-occurring mineral that was once used heavily by many industries for its heat and fire-resistant properties. Although anyone at any age can develop an illness from asbestos, senior citizens face a heightened risk, as older people today have, at some point, been exposed to asbestos decades ago when it was used in extremely large amounts.
Asbestos in Older Homes
A large number of senior citizens still live in the homes they purchased many decades ago. This means many people are living in homes built anywhere from the 1930s throughout the 1970s. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), homes built between 1930 through 1950 may have asbestos in the insulation. Homes built from the 1930s up until the late 1970s may contain asbestos in old appliances, shingles, roofing, walls, vinyl flooring, and pipes.
People living in homes with asbestos should not panic and move out. Instead, it’s important to contact an asbestos abatement professional to investigate the home to determine if there is indeed asbestos. In the meantime, any work that needs to be done on the home should be postponed. If there is asbestos in the home, the fibers may become disturbed when home repairs are done. It is the ingestion of asbestos fibers that’s linked to mesothelioma and other hazardous medical problems. Since asbestos fibers are thin, odorless, and undetectable to the human eye, it’s impossible to know if someone ingests them.
Job Sites and Asbestos
Another reason senior citizens face a heightened risk of developing mesothelioma is that a good majority of today’s seniors once worked at job sites in which asbestos was extensively used. Senior citizens who were homemakers back then, and even their children, are at risk of developing mesothelioma via second-hand exposure from spouses who worked at job sites that used asbestos.
In the late 1970s, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finally placed strict regulations on asbestos use at job sites. Prior to the 1970s, however, asbestos and asbestos containing materials (ACMs) were greatly used in the following industries:
- Construction Work
- Paper Mills
- Chemical Plants
- Automotive Plants
- Fire Departments
- Ship Yards
- Steel Mills
- Military Bases
- Steel Mills
- Aluminum Plants
Senior Citizens and Mesothelioma Lawsuits
A myriad of senior citizens have already developed malignant mesothelioma after excessive exposure to asbestos. Many, however, didn’t take being negligently exposed to a harmful, toxic, substance lightly.
As of 2014, thousands of senior citizens have filed a mesothelioma lawsuit against the manufacturers that supplied asbestos to the companies they used to work for. Although mesothelioma compensation can be quite substantial, these seniors still have to live with a life-threatening illness that attacks internal organs and forces them to undergo intrusive treatments, such as radiation, surgery, and chemotherapy.
How Can Senior Protect Themselves?
All senior citizens should receive regular medical check-ups from their physicians, and if they feel that they may have been exposed to asbestos at some point, it’s important to let their doctors know as soon as possible.
Mesothelioma lies dormant for 20 to 50 years in most instances, which makes it difficult for people to know if they have the illness or not. However, if a physician catches it early enough, treatment can begin immediately, making the prognosis more favorable.