Many people in North Carolina think that asbestos claims are a thing of the past, but they are wrong. In the past several weeks, this blog has cited a number of cases in which exposure to asbestos-containing products has been cited as a present and serious public health risk. We also mentioned congressional efforts to pass the Further Asbestos Claims Transparency Act ("FACT Act"), which is viewed by many observers as an effort by the asbestos industry and its defenders to raise the barriers to successful pursuit of claims for damages caused by asbestos exposure. Plainly, asbestos has not "gone away" - it is still viewed as a significant health hazard and it still makes people sick.
The health risks associated with exposure to airborne asbestos fibers were discovered shortly after the end of World War II. Persons who had worked in shipyards, workers who installed insulated heating lines and others whose work required them to be in the presence of asbestos fibers were reporting illnesses such as inflammation of the lining of the lungs (asbestosis), a rare form of lung cancer (mesothelioma) and other diseases that diminished the human respiratory system. Medical research soon proved that inhalation of asbestos fibers was the cause of these diseases.