The Risk of Mesothelioma in New Mexico

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What You Need to Know About Asbestos and Mesothelioma Neblett, Beard and ArsenaultIf you were diagnosed with mesothelioma, it’s likely that you were exposed to asbestos at some time in your life—likely at work or through secondary exposure. Mesothelioma is almost always caused by asbestos exposure and is a deadly form of aggressive cancer for which there is no cure. Between 1999 and 2013, there have been nearly 200 mesothelioma deaths in the New Mexico.

Asbestos and Mesothelioma

Asbestos is a natural mineral that was widely mined and used in over thousands of consumer products until the early 1980s. It was around this time that asbestos was discovered to cause cancer. Because so many industries and manufacturing companies made asbestos-containing goods, and the buildings used to create the products were made of materials with asbestos, workers in New Mexico were not only exposed to this deadly substance, they brought the asbestos home on their clothes, shoes, and coats, exposing their family members, as well.

Mesothelioma develops in the mesothelium—the lining of certain body organs, specifically the heart, lungs, and abdomen. However, it can take years and even decades before a person presents symptoms. Mesothelioma affects these organs in the following ways:

Heart

Known as pericardial mesothelioma, this is a rarer form of this particular cancer type with only about 200 cases diagnosed. This cancer occurs when asbestos fibers get lodged in the lining that surrounds the heart cavity. Patients often suffer from coughing, chest pain, an irregular heartbeat, and difficulty breathing.

Lungs 

Pleural mesothelioma is the most common of this cancer type. It most often occurs when a person inhales asbestos fibers, and they get caught in the tissue layer surrounding the lungs. Patients with pleural mesothelioma often suffer from breathlessness, fever, fatigue, and chest pains. Because there has been a great deal of research done on this type of cancer, most patients with pleural mesothelioma qualify for chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and radiation therapy—treatments that increase life expectancy.

Abdomen

Known as peritoneal mesothelioma, this type of cancer develops after someone inhales or swallows asbestos fibers, and those fibers get trapped in the lining of the abdomen—the peritoneum. Symptoms of this type of cancer include abdominal pain, bloating, bowel changes, and a distended bowel. Patients with this type of cancer have a better prognosis than those with pleural mesothelioma.

New Mexico Industries That Exposed Workers to Asbestos 

Across New Mexico, there are locations, industries, and companies known for exposing workers and residents to asbestos. There are areas of naturally forming asbestos, 16 mining districts with reported asbestos in those mines, and there are companies in Albuquerque known for using asbestos-containing products.

Natural Deposits

According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, there are multiple natural deposits of asbestos, with the heaviest concentration in the southwestern area of New Mexico and a few others located in the state’s mid-section. Additionally, erionite, a mineral that is comparable to asbestos, can also be found in New Mexico, along with chrysotile deposits. Anyone who comes in contact with these natural deposits may be at an increased risk of developing mesothelioma.

Albuquerque and Kirtland Air Force Base

Manufacturing plants, energy companies, and a variety of industries make Albuquerque home, and all of them are known for using products that contain asbestos. Over 57,000 tons of raw asbestos has been shipped to Albuquerque from Libby, Montana and used for its fire-resistant and insulating properties in products such as gaskets, brakes, boilers, cement, paint, and piping.

Kirtland Air Force Base, the largest employer in Albuquerque, used asbestos to construct its buildings. As with many military bases, asbestos could be found in roofing materials, ceiling and flooring tiles, and in many parts of the barracks. Despite clean-up efforts, military personnel who worked at the base or were stationed there were at a high risk of asbestos exposure.

Other Albuquerque Companies

There are a variety of other companies in Albuquerque that exposed workers to asbestos, including:

  • Albuquerque Gas & Electric
  • Kent Nowlin Construction Company
  • Owens Corning Fiberglass
  • Reeves Power Plant
  • Columbia Asbestos Company
  • H.M. Public Service Power
  • Cerrillos Coal Company

Occupations That Put New Mexico Workers at Risk for Asbestos Exposure

When asbestos materials are damaged or disrupted, the microscopic fibers can be released into the environment, and those employees working around it can be exposed. Although it only takes one fiber lodged in the body to be deadly, many workers in oil and gas production and other industries reliant on asbestos were exposed for long periods of time. Employees who worked in the following occupations are at a high risk of exposure in the state of New Mexico:

  • Insulators
  • Electrical engineers
  • Aircraft mechanics
  • Construction workers
  • Electrical power linemen
  • Drywall tapers
  • Pipefitters
  • Industrial engineers
  • Teachers
  • Mechanical engineers

New Mexico Mesothelioma Treatment Centers 

After being diagnosed with mesothelioma, it’s important that you seek treatment from an experienced and skilled doctor who specializes in this type of cancer. In New Mexico, you can find help at the following center:

University of New Mexico Cancer Center

1201 Camino de Salud NE
Albuquerque, NM 87102

(505) 272-4946

New Mexico Asbestos Lawsuits  

Due to the latency period of up to 50 years for asbestos-related diseases to present, New Mexico has seen an increase in the number of lawsuits related to asbestos exposure. Workers and residents have held their employers and the manufacturers of asbestos-containing products liable for their mesothelioma. In a 2011 case, a resident of New Mexico sued 48 companies, claiming they were responsible for the death of her husband due to lung cancer. In 2003, one of the state’s largest electrical and power provides, PNM Resources, was cited as a defendant in over 15 lawsuits. As more and more people have sought legal action, asbestos cases are tried differently, and patients with mesothelioma can pursue multiple defendants.

Contact Neblett, Beard & Arsenault

If you live in New Mexico and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, or a loved one died of this disease, you may be able to pursue compensation through a lawsuit. Because you have just three years to file your suit after being diagnosed with mesothelioma and three years from the date of death to file a wrongful death claim, it’s important to contact a lawyer skilled and experienced in handling mesothelioma lawsuits. Compensation can cover the expensive costs of loss of work, medications, travel expenses, and potential surgery. Contact us online or call our office directly at 318.541.8188.

 

Richard J. Arsenault
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Recognized by several legal associations, Richard Arsenault has vast experience in complex litigation cases.