Many people are unfamiliar with the deadly cancer mesothelioma, yet the link between mesothelioma and asbestos exposure has been known for years. Asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral that has been used extensively in industries such as construction and manufacturing, but only recently has there been public awareness about the disease because it can take years and even decades to develop. The state of Colorado currently ranks 24th among all the states for the number of asbestos-related deaths.
If you suffer from mesothelioma, here is information you and your family need about the disease, potential exposure locations, where to seek medical help and support, and the steps to take to seek compensation in a court of law.
About Asbestos and Possible Sources of Exposure in Colorado
Asbestos is a family of silica-based minerals that naturally occur in the earth. It can be found in large deposits, or it may be mixed in with other types of minerals or ores that are commonly mined. Asbestos has been mined and used extensively in the United States in many industries, including manufacturing, construction, and the military. It is abundant in the earth, making it very cheap to mine and can be processed readily into many different forms or products. It is resistant to heat, fire, and many corrosive chemicals, and it is an excellent electrical insulator.
Asbestos can be found naturally in Colorado, although it has never been mined in the state. However, asbestos can be present when mining for many other types of minerals or metal ores, particularly silver—making all miners at high risk for occupational exposure. There are also other potential industries or locations in Colorado that could result in asbestos exposure, including:
Energy And Power Industries
Since asbestos is very heat and flame resistant and is a good electrical insulator, many power-generating facilities in Colorado have used asbestos heavily. Any nuclear, natural gas, coal, hydroelectric, or other power-generating or transmission facilities may contain asbestos or asbestos-bearing materials, especially older facilities. The Pawnee Power Station in Brush, Colorado was built in an era when asbestos was still being used, as was the Ray Nixon Power Plant in Colorado Springs. Additionally, the Zuni Power Station in Denver, the Rocky Flats Plant outside Denver, the Comanche Generating Station, and the Pueblo Power Plant in Pueblo are all sites where occupational asbestos exposure could have occurred.
Heat resistance and corrosion-resistant properties made asbestos an ideal material for use in oil refineries and other related facilities, and exposure is known or suspected to have occurred at many refineries in Colorado. These include Conoco Oil, Continental Oil, Gary Williams Energy, Grand Valley Oil & Shale, and Ultramar Diamond in Colorado Springs.
Manufacturing And Other Industries
Chemical plants, mills, refineries, and factories have often relied extensively on asbestos for construction, as a part of machinery used to make goods, or in the goods that they produce. Companies such as Drive Train Industries, Anheuser-Busch, Coors Brewery, Columbine Glass Company, and Hensel Phelps Construction may all have exposed workers to asbestos.
Veterans of every branch of the military face a high risk of exposure to asbestos, as asbestos or asbestos-containing materials have been used extensively by the armed forces for a wide variety of purposes. Many military bases such as the Lowry Air Force Base may have contained asbestos, and Rocky Mountain Arsenal site in Commerce City was also placed on the EPA Superfund site list in 1987 for contamination cleanup due to asbestos and other toxic substances.
Denver and Colorado Springs are the two primary sources of asbestos exposure in Colorado. Exposure may also have occurred in Pueblo, Englewood, Golden, and Grand Junction. The Lowry Landfill outside of Aurora is also an EPA Superfund site known for contamination by asbestos and many other dangerous materials.
Additionally, exposure to asbestos could have occurred in many other cities or towns in Colorado due to the widespread use of asbestos and frequent contamination of the soil and water. Some of the other businesses or locations where asbestos exposure may have occurred in Colorado include the following:
- Boulder Metal Products
- Boulder Rolling Mills Company
- Citizens Light Heat & Power Company
- Climax Uranium Company
- Colorado Fuel and Iron Company
- Colorado Laundry Company
- Colorado Springs Utilities
- Corley Coal Company
- Estes Power Plant
- General Iron Works
- Lowry Landfill
- Martin Company Plant
- Munroe Supply
- Natkin & Company
- Pawnee Power Plant
- Pueblo Traction and Lighting Company
- Peata Verde Silver Mine
- Rock Wool Manufacturing Company
- J W Reffel Metals Foundry
- Sedalia Copper Mine
- Southern Colorado Power Company
- Stainless Equipment
- United States Vanadium Corporation
- United State Zinc Company
- Western Minerals Company Plant
Types and Causes of Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer, first recognized in the early 1800s. The connection between asbestos exposure and asbestos-related illnesses such as asbestosis and mesothelioma was identified around 1943, by which time many industries had been using asbestos extensively for years.
Mesothelioma is a blanket term that encompasses several different types of the disease that occur in different locations in the body. Every form of mesothelioma attacks a thin layer of cells called the mesothelium that surround certain organs in the body. The four major types of mesothelioma are:
Pleural mesothelioma occurs in the lungs. It is the most common form of the disease and is strongly linked to inhalation of asbestos fibers.
Peritoneal mesothelioma is less common than pleural mesothelioma. It attacks the cells of the abdominal cavity and is linked with exposure through eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
Pericardial Mesothelioma is a rarer form of the disease. It attacks the cellular lining around the heart called the pericardium. It can cause an irregular pulse and chest pains.
Testicular mesothelioma is very rare and poorly understood. The initial symptoms can mimic other testicular health problems with pain or swelling, and it is usually treated by removing the affected testicle.
There are few forms of cancer more lethal than mesothelioma. It is a disease that spreads quickly through the body, which can cause the condition to become inoperable.
Although the average survival time of a mesothelioma patient can vary greatly depending on the individual’s health, type of mesothelioma present, and how quickly it is diagnosed, the long-term prognosis for mesothelioma is not good. According to the American Cancer Society’s survival estimates for pleural mesothelioma, the two-year outlook for mesothelioma that’s diagnosed at the earliest stage is about 46%, and the five-year outlook is about 16%. When mesothelioma isn’t caught until later stages or when the cancer has spread to distant parts of the body, the outlook is significantly worse.
Where to Seek Treatment for Mesothelioma in Colorado
Although mesothelioma is considered a terminal disease, there are treatment options available that offer many potential benefits for both patients and their families. There are multiple locations in the state of Colorado that may be able to offer mesothelioma care, supportive services, and other assistance, including:
If you suffer from mesothelioma or have a family member who has this disease, the American Cancer Society offers support services that may be able to provide help. This agency offers assistance with transportation, temporary housing, medical supplies or equipment, and support or therapy groups for your family during a difficult time.
Legal Help for Colorado Mesothelioma Patients
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or you’ve lost a family member to the disease, you may be able to seek compensation in a court of law. However, asbestos is a fast-moving disease, making it very important for you to reach out for legal help as soon as possible.
The laws regarding mesothelioma claims are different in every state. Colorado has a statute of limitations of two years from the date of diagnosis for a personal injury claim. The families of those who have died from mesothelioma may also seek to recover financially with a wrongful death lawsuit within two years of the date of death. After these time limits have expired, it is unlikely you will be able to receive any form of compensation. A personal injury attorney with experience handling mesothelioma claims can help you begin the legal process.
To get started with your mesothelioma claim right away, contact the attorneys at Neblett, Beard & Arsenault. Our attorneys and staff are aware that mesothelioma patients and families are in need of fast, compassionate help and dependable legal service. When you contact us, we will work closely with you and your family to provide the information you need to move forward with your claim. To make the process easier, we can come to your door, and we do our work on a contingency fee basis—meaning there are no up-front costs for our clients until a settlement is reached.
To arrange your free consultation with an experienced legal professional at Neblett, Beard & Arsenault, contact us online or call our office directly at 318.588.6303.