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Published on May 11, 2017
Mesothelioma is a type of malignant cancer that affects the thin lining of the body’s internal organs. It has been known for decades that mesothelioma is the direct result of exposure to asbestos. In response, the federal government banned many asbestos-containing products, although even today some asbestos products are still sold legally, and workers are still exposed in older structures that contain asbestos. Sadly, mesothelioma deaths continue to rise across the United States.
More Than 45,000 Mesothelioma Deaths Since 1999
On March 3, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released updated figures on mesothelioma-related deaths in the United States from 1999 to 2015. “Contrary to past projections,” the CDC said, “the number of malignant mesothelioma deaths has been increasing.” In 1999, there were 2,479 reported mesothelioma deaths. In 2015, there were 2,597–an increase of nearly 5 percent.
Overall there have been more than 45,000 mesothelioma-related deaths since 1999. Nearly 80 percent of these victims were men. About 95 percent were Caucasian.
Not surprisingly, the majority of mesothelioma deaths occurred when the victims were age 55 or older. The CDC noted that the time lapse between initial exposure to asbestos and the onset of malignant mesothelioma is typically 20 to 39 years – and in some cases as long as 71 years. This means workers exposed to asbestos at the age of 25 in 1977 may not be diagnosed with mesothelioma until after they have retired.
But even with modern health and safety rules designed to protect workers, exposure still remains a risk. The CDC said exposure now occurs “predominantly during maintenance operations and remediation of older buildings containing asbestos.” The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) maintains strict standards for removing asbestos from existing buildings. But if individual employers, particularly in the construction industry, fail to abide by these standards, workers may still be exposed. This can also expose family members of such workers, the CDC said, since asbestos fibers on clothing may later be inhaled by other members of the worker’s household.
Do You Need to Speak With a Boston Asbestos & Mesothelioma Attorney?
According to the CDC’s figures, the highest age-adjusted death rates for mesothelioma victims are found in northeastern states, notably Massachusetts and Maine. This underscores the ongoing public health crisis of mesothelioma in and around the Boston area. If you or a family member have been exposed to asbestos and need to speak with a Boston mesothelioma lawyer, contact Thornton Law Firm, LLP, online today or call (888) 491-9726 to schedule a free consultation.