Kansas is ranked 29th in the United States for mesothelioma and asbestosis deaths. The highest incidence of mesothelioma in Kansas is in the eastern part of the state near Kansas City. Between 1999 and 2013, Kansas has seen 293 deaths due to mesothelioma.
Asbestos and Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral that until the 1970s was used in hundreds of consumer products and used for insulation and fireproofing. However, asbestos was eventually established as a carcinogen that caused many respiratory problems and malignant mesothelioma. This fatal form of cancer occurs when a person inhales or ingests the small, microscopic fibers, and they get lodged in the mesothelium—the outer membrane surrounding the chest organs, abdominal cavity, and pelvis.
In most cases, mesothelioma spreads silently for years, and the symptoms of mesothelioma may not present for decades. When a doctor diagnoses the disease, the cancer is often at an advanced stage. Consequently, the U.S. is seeing many cases of mesothelioma even though asbestos was banned by 1990.
Asbestos Exposure in Kansas
Because asbestos is a natural insulator, it was used for insulating boilers, pipes, and other fittings in industries where heat was a factor. But it wasn’t just the machines and equipment that exposed workers to asbestos. The clothing worn by workers to provide protection was also made with asbestos. When the clothes got old, the microscopic asbestos fibers could be released into the air. Industries that used asbestos or asbestos-containing materials include:
Salt is one of Kansas’ most plentiful natural resources. However, extracting the salt required machinery and equipment that exposed workers to asbestos. Barton Salt Company, Carey Salt Company, and Morton Salt Company, all located in Hutchinson, exposed its employees to airborne asbestos fibers.
Once the largest agricultural cooperative in America, Farmland Industries was a chemical plant that processed ammonia used in making fertilizer. Asbestos was often used in the processing plants because it was resistant to corroding chemicals and could protect against chemical reactions. “Blue” asbestos, also known as crocidolite, was used at Farmland Industries—a form of asbestos thought to be responsible for more deaths than any other type. Because these “blue” fibers are as thin as a strand of hair, they can easily be inhaled. Once inside the lining of the lungs, they can remain there longer than other types of foreign substances. Other chemical plants that exposed workers to asbestos included Harcros Chemical, Dupont Chemical, and Vulcan Chemical.
Certain oil refineries have exposed its employees to asbestos, using the material in unstable environments to contain fires and help prevent them. You may have been exposed to asbestos if you worked at Co-Op Oil Refinery, Apco Oil Corporation, and Texaco Oil in El Dorado. Frontier Oil, located in El Dorado, is considered one of the worst job sites for exposure in Kansas.
Because asbestos was used as insulation to protect against heat and electricity, power plants across the United States used it and have a history of exposing their employees to these dangerous fibers. In Kansas, Wolf Creek Nuclear Generating Station in Burlington was the power facility most known for this exposure. Other sites included Coffeyville Municipal Light & Power and Sunflower Electric Corporation.
Kansas Jails and Asbestos Cleanup
When the Kansas Department of Corrections (KDC) modernized a Topeka prison dormitory in 2005 and 2006, it didn’t inspect the building for asbestos—thus violating the Clean Air Act. The KDC also didn’t take the required precautions by providing training and respirators for its workers. In 2010, the EPA cited the KDC for the violation and ordered that the necessary inspections be performed in future renovations.
Kansas Asbestos Lawsuits
Due to the growing number of asbestos lawsuits, many states, including Kansas, created statutes of limitations on the amount of compensation a plaintiff was able to recover. In 1987, the statute limited the damages for pain and suffering, mental anguish, and other claims that are not related to medical costs. Kansas residents and workers are entitled to sue if they can prove that their condition was caused by exposure to asbestos, and they have two years to file a claim for both personal injury cases and wrongful death cases. Most of these cases don’t end up in court; rather, many companies settle, and other companies have set up trust funds for victims.
Cancer Treatment Centers in Kansas
If you were exposed to asbestos and believe your mesothelioma diagnosis is a result of that exposure, it’s critical that you work with a doctor who understands this cancer and can give you the best possible treatment options. Kansas has some facilities that might be able to help after a mesothelioma diagnosis, including:
Cancer Center of Kansas
Heritage Plaza Medical Building
818 N. Emporia
Wichita, KS 67214
In addition, you may want to consider traveling to a nearby state for treatment after your mesothelioma diagnosis. Other treatment centers in nearby states include:
Eppley Cancer Center
University of Nebraska Medical Center
600 South 42nd Street
Omaha, Nebraska 68198-6805
Tel: (402) 559-4238
Siteman Cancer Center
Washington University School of Medicine
660 South Euclid Avenue
St. Louis, Missouri 63110
Tel: (314) 362-8020
University of Colorado Cancer Center
University of Colorado at Denver
13001 E. 17th Place
Aurora, Colorado 80045
Tel: (303) 724-3155
Contact Neblett, Beard & Arsenault
When you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you want an experienced mesothelioma attorney who will file a lawsuit with the responsible party who exposed you to asbestos. We handle these cases on a contingency fee basis—which means you owe no out-of-pocket expenses and will pay attorney fees only when we settle your claim. To learn more about our experience in these cases and your legal options, contact us online or call our office directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.