Because the southern portion of Mississippi sits at the Gulf of Mexico, the location makes it a favorable place for shipyards and oil refineries—two industries that are known for using asbestos materials and products to prevent fires. Asbestos, known for its heat-resistant properties, strength, and durability, was also used in many manufacturing plants throughout the U.S.
However, asbestos, once referred to as a “magic mineral,” is a deadly substance that is the only proven cause of mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive cancer.
Understanding Asbestos and Its Connection to Mesothelioma
The word “asbestos” refers to six naturally occurring fibrous minerals. They are extremely resistant to heat, fire, and electricity, as well as being strong and durable. Although microscopic, asbestos fibers can withstand most chemical breakdowns making them excellent insulators. Additionally, asbestos has been added to thousands of consumer products to provide strength, including plastic, paper, construction equipment and supplies, cloth, and adhesives.
But asbestos is a highly toxic material. Once these fibers are airborne, it’s possible for people to inhale or swallow them, where they can get trapped deep in the lungs or the digestive tracks. Later, these fibers attack the mesothelium—the membrane lining the heart, abdomen, and lungs. Here are some statistics about asbestos and mesothelioma:
- Every year in the U.S., approximately 2,500 mesothelioma-related deaths occur.
- Over 125 million people suffer from mesothelioma.
- About 90 percent of patients were exposed to asbestos where they work.
- Approximately 20 million people are at risk of developing mesothelioma at some point in their lives.
Mesothelioma has a long latency period, and patients who were exposed to asbestos may not see symptoms for up to 50 years following that exposure. It’s difficult for doctors to diagnose this disease for a variety of reasons:
- The symptoms of mesothelioma can mirror other conditions. A patient who has a dry cough or wheezing, feels exhausted, or experiences muscle weakness may be diagnosed with any number of other illnesses with similar symptoms.
- A doctor won’t usually find a tumor until the cancer has metastasized into an organ.
- A patient may not present symptoms until the condition is well developed.
Occupational and Environmental Risks for Asbestos Exposure in Mississippi
Because Mississippi borders the Gulf of Mexico, many workers in Mississippi are employed at the oil refineries and shipyards that make use of that location. These are two industries known for exposing their workers to asbestos. Other occupations that put workers at risk include:
- Dock workers
- Electricians and electrical plant operators
- Demolition workers
- Chemical workers
- Boiler operators
- Gas fitters
If you worked for oil and gas, power plants, chemical plants, or shipbuilding companies, you may be at a higher risk of asbestos exposure.
Types Of Companies That May Exposed Workers To Asbestos
Because there is a strong fire danger inside power plants, many companies used asbestos as insulation in its mechanical parts and pipe fittings, as well as within the building itself. Mississippi power companies that may have exposed workers to asbestos include Grand Gulf Nuclear Power Plant, Jack Watson Powerhouse, and Gulf Power Plant.
Gas and Oil
Despite its limited coastline along the Gulf, Mississippi is one of the largest producers of carbon-based fuels in the United States, producing gas and oil since 1903. Because there are large quantities of asbestos used in this industry, many companies in Mississippi exposed workers to asbestos, including Hess Oil & Chemical, Chevron, Grenada Oil Company, and Southland Oil.
Shipyards and Shipbuilding
During the 1930s to the 1970s, many shipping companies used asbestos insulation when building their ships. Ingalls Shipbuilding and Naval Station Pascagoula are two shipyards in Mississippi known to have exposed workers to asbestos.
Employees of chemical plants were at an increased risk of being exposed to asbestos and developing mesothelioma. Because asbestos is resistant to chemical breakdowns, it’s extremely helpful in chemical processing. Vicksburg Chemical Company, Mississippi Chemical, and Spencer Chemical Company are all known to have used asbestos.
Mississippi Treatment Centers for Mesothelioma
If you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it’s important that you seek the help of a professional healthcare provider who has knowledge in this kind of cancer. Mississippi has one treatment center dedicated to cancer that may be able to help:
University of Mississippi Medical Center Mississippi Cancer Registry
2500 North State Street
Jackson, MS 39216
Other nearby treatment centers include:
1824 6th Avenue South
Wallace Tumor Institute 202
Birmingham, AL 35233
2220 Pierce Avenue, Nashville, TN 37232
Asbestos Lawsuits in Mississippi
For many years, Mississippi was a hot spot for filing asbestos lawsuits. Twenty percent of the asbestos claims in the U.S. were filed there in 2002. Although there has been a decline in cases filed, victims still file in Mississippi because there is no limit on punitive damages, and verdicts for victims of asbestos exposure are typically higher.
In a federal jury award, James Jackson, who worked for Ingalls Shipbuilding, was awarded over $1 million in damages. Robert Overly, a former Westinghouse employee who repaired ships, won $465,000 in economic damages and $400,000 in non-economic damages. Although the damages were reduced later on, Ingalls acknowledged liability.
Contact Neblett, Beard & Arsenault
If you worked with asbestos or near this material while on the job and now suffer from mesothelioma, you may qualify for compensation. In Mississippi, you have three years from the date of your mesothelioma diagnosis to file an asbestos claim. If you’re filing a wrongful death claim on behalf of your deceased loved one, you also have three years. Hiring a skilled and experienced personal injury lawyer is important when seeking damages due to your asbestos exposure. Contact us online or call our office directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule a no-fee consultation to discuss your situation.