According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), California ranks 1st in the nation for asbestosis and mesothelioma deaths, and Yuba and Siskiyou counties were ranked in the top 50 U.S. counties with the highest mesothelioma death rates. Additionally, asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral that causes mesothelioma, has been found in 45 out of 58 counties in California. Between 1999 and 2015, over 4,100 Californians died of mesothelioma.
What Is Asbestos and Its Link to Mesothelioma?
Asbestos isn’t a single mineral; rather, it’s a group of minerals that shares the same fibrous characteristics. It was once considered a “magic mineral” because of its heat and fire-resistant properties and durability. For decades, it was used in the U.S. for fireproofing and insulation, especially in shipbuilding. During this time, over 2,500 ships contained large quantities of asbestos, and later, it was used in over 3,000 products, including brakes, cement, roofing, plastic, cloth, and paper. Thus, asbestos helped make many businesses very profitable.
However, asbestos is an extremely toxic substance. There were reports from German doctors in the late 1930s of asbestos-related cancer, and by the 1960s, mesothelioma was linked to asbestos exposure. Even non-occupational exposure to this mineral—often referred to as secondary exposure—was found to cause cancer. Men who worked in asbestos mines brought asbestos fibers home on their clothing and exposed their spouses and children.
Asbestos fibers are microscopic, and you can’t smell, taste, or see them. And once they’re in the body, they never dissolve. Over a period of many years, these trapped fibers can cause inflammation, scarring, and ultimately genetic damage to the cells in the body. Because exposure to this mineral doesn’t create immediate symptoms, fibers can be inhaled or swallowed and mesothelioma not diagnosed for years or decades after.
Asbestos Exposure in California
Natural asbestos can be widely found throughout California, and it is estimated that there is at least 240 asbestos deposits in the state. With such easy access to this mineral, California had many operating asbestos mines, including:
- John D. Hoff mine in Alameda
- Jefferson Lake mine in Calaveras
- Coalinga mine in Fresno
- Tabor Mining Company in Napa
- John Quirk mine in Butte
- El Dorado Copper Co. property in El Dorado
Asbestos was also used in a variety of California industries and jobsites because it is a substance that’s strong, can withstand most chemical breakdowns, is resistant to heat, and is a good insulator. Here are some of the industries and jobsites where asbestos was used:
Shipyard and Shipbuilding
- Bethlehem Steel Shipyard in San Francisco
- National Steel & Shipbuilding Co. in San Diego
- Long Beach Naval Shipyard
- San Diego Naval Base
- Moore Dry Dock in Oakland
- Todd Shipyard in Alameda
- Standard Oil Company in El Segundo
- Tosco Refining in Washington
- Monterey Oil Company in Huntington Beach
- Continental Oil Company in Los Angeles
- Union Oil Refinery in San Pedro
- Shell Oil Refinery in Pasadena
- Kellogg Company in Palo Alto
- Pacific Clay Products in Pomona
- Campbell Soup Company in Modesto
- Hunts food and Industries in Fullerton
- Menasco Manufacturing in Burbank
- American Toy Company in Oakland
- Pacific Light & Power Company in Los Angeles
- San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in Pendleton
- Blackrock Power Plan in Fresno
- Napa Valley Electric Company in Napa
- California Electric Power Company in San Bernardino
- Pacific Gas & Electric Company in San Jose
California Treatment and Support Centers
Managing a diagnosis of mesothelioma means working with a doctor who specializes in this type of cancer. There are many doctors and treatment centers in California. Here is a brief list of some of California’s leading cancer centers:
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
8700 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90048
University of California Los Angeles Medical Center
Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Care Center
200 UCLA Medical Plaza, Suite 120
Los Angeles, CA 90095
UCSF Medical Center at Mount Zion
Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center
1600 Divisadero Street
San Francisco, CA 94115
10010 North Torrey Pines Road
La Jolla, CA 92037
Stanford Cancer Institute
Stanford Cancer Center
875 Blake Wilbur Drive
Stanford, CA 94305
USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center
1441 Eastlake Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90033
Additionally, there are many other cancer clinics in the U.S. that provide treatment for mesothelioma and may offer clinical trials. These include:
- Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York, NY
- Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, Baltimore, MD
- University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston Texas
- H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute, Tampa FL
- The University of Chicago Medicine, Chicago, IL
Additionally, you may also find emotional help through the following support groups for cancer patients:
California Asbestos Laws
Although asbestos isn’t banned in the United States, it’s strictly regulated. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reduced airborne asbestos fibers through its National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) guidelines. This agency is overseen by California’s Air Resources Board (ARB) of the California EPA.
Additionally, laws have been created to help protect employees from asbestos exposure and its health risks. There are requirements for wearing protective clothing when working around asbestos, and California also adopted “cancer presumption laws” that allow employees access to workers’ compensation for mesothelioma.
Two other laws, called Airborne Toxic Control Measures (ATCMs), have been implemented because asbestos is so abundant in California. Here is a brief look at those measures:
- The ATCM for Surfacing Applications regulates the use, supply, and sale of “aggregate material.” This includes gravel, sand, and crushed stone. It’s illegal to use aggregate materials that contain asbestos if it means that material will be exposed or disturbed—such as gravel on an unpaved road.
- The ATCM for Construction, Grading, Quarrying, and Surface Mining Operations mitigates activities that generate dust that might contain asbestos.
California Lawsuits for Asbestos Exposure and Mesothelioma
If you live in California and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be able to receive compensation by filing an asbestos lawsuit or an asbestos trust fund claim. Many companies in the 1980s faced asbestos lawsuits and filed for bankruptcy, setting up trust funds to pay victims of asbestos exposure. Most of these lawsuits have been filed in Alameda, San Francisco, and Los Angeles counties.
If you suffer from mesothelioma and the company that exposed you to asbestos has established one of these trust funds, you can file a claim no matter how many years have passed since working there. It’s not necessary to go through court proceedings to file a claim against a fund. You can also file a lawsuit against that company.
Those who suffer from mesothelioma and surviving loved ones have a year after a patient’s diagnosis or date of that person’s death to file an asbestos-related lawsuit in California. This time limit also applies, even if you don’t know exactly which company is responsible.
Contact Neblett, Beard & Arsenault Today
If you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma or your loved one has died from this disease, contact Neblett, Beard & Arsenault. If you want to file a claim against a trust fund or against the company you believe exposed you to asbestos, we can answer all of your questions and fight for the compensation you deserve. We handle these cases throughout the country on a contingency fee basis, which means you owe no out-of-pocket expenses until we settle your claim. Contact us online or call us directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.