The link between asbestos exposure and illness has long been known, but it’s only in recent years that the extent of the problem has become apparent. Sickness and death caused by mesothelioma, asbestosis, and related conditions have been going up across the nation, including in Illinois.
Here is the information that mesothelioma victims and their families need to know about this condition, including how it is caused, likely sources of asbestos exposure in Illinois, and where to seek treatment.
What Is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a rare and fast-acting form of cancer. It is an extremely aggressive disease that attacks a layer of cells, called the mesothelium, that covers many organs of the body. The lungs, heart, and abdominal cavity are at particular risk, although mesothelioma has been detected in other parts of the body. The most common type of mesothelioma, called pleural mesothelioma, attacks the lungs, and is often caused by inhaling asbestos.
Mesothelioma can also attack other parts of the body. Pericardial mesothelioma affects the mesothelium around the heart, and peritoneal mesothelioma occurs in the lining of the abdomen. Mesothelioma is occasionally present in other parts of the body, as well, such as the tissue surrounding the testicles in men.
The symptoms of mesothelioma depend on the type and location of the cancer, and in some cases may be mistaken for other conditions. Mesothelioma is also slow to develop, so the disease may not appear for years or even decades after the initial exposure to asbestos by inhalation or consumption of contaminated food or water.
Mesothelioma is one of the most aggressive and lethal cancers, and the survival outlook for those who have been diagnosed is not good, even if the disease is discovered early. The latest statistics from the American Cancer Society put the two-year survival rate for the earliest stage of mesothelioma, stage IA, at less than 50 percent of patients, and the five-year outlook at only 16 percent. The two- and five-year survival rates for those diagnosed with later-stage mesothelioma are significantly lower.
Risk of Asbestos Exposure in Illinois
Asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral composite found in the earth. It is actually composed of several related types of silica-bearing minerals, and it is mined extensively for a wide variety of commercial, industrial, and other uses, as it is cheap and abundant, and has good properties as an electrical and thermal (heat) insulator.
Illinois residents generally do not need to worry about exposure from asbestos mining operations, as the mineral has never been openly mined in the state. However, there are many businesses and industries in Illinois that have used asbestos extensively in a broad range of applications. Some of these include:
- Manufacturing facilities. Illinois is home to a wide variety of manufacturing, and many plants were constructed using asbestos due to its fire resistance and heat protection. This includes the facilities of many large brand-name food manufacturers, such as Kraft and Nabisco.
- Steel mills. Illinois has been, or is currently, home to many major steel milling operations. The U.S. Steel Corporation’s Granite City Works in Southern Illinois and the Keystone Steel & Wire Co. in Peoria are examples of steel-producing facilities that have used quantities of asbestos, potentially exposing steel workers and other plant employees.
- Military facilities. Illinois is home to many military bases and other facilities, including the Rock Island Arsenal, Scott Air Force Base in Shiloh, Camp Lincoln in Springfield, and Naval Station Great Lakes in North Chicago. Every branch of the military, including the Army, Navy, Air Force, and National Guard, are known to have used asbestos heavily in constructing many types of facilities. Roofing, floor tiles, sealing materials, insulation, and other building components all put veterans at particular risk.
- Oil refineries. Illinois is home to many refineries that turn oil into a variety of things, such as gasoline, diesel or other fuels, plastics, and many other products. Many refineries use asbestos extensively in construction due to its superior resistance to fire and heat—regardless of its effects on employees.
Those involved in the construction industry also face a greatly increased risk of asbestos exposure, especially when engaged in repair or remodel work on older buildings. Residents of older buildings also face an exposure risk in the event of any structural damage to the roof, walls, or flooring. Asbestos fibers are extremely fine and light, and easily disbursed through the air when disturbed, even after decades have passed.
Illinois Mesothelioma Treatment Center Locations
There is no cure for mesothelioma to date, though research is ongoing. However, seeking appropriate treatment can extend the lives of sufferers and may grant an improved quality of life for their remaining time.
There are many hospitals, cancer centers, and research institutes in Illinois that may be able to help mesothelioma sufferers with medical treatment and support for patients and their families, including:
303 E. Superior L3 - 125
Chicago, IL 60611
120 Spalding Drive
Naperville, IL 60540
5841 S Maryland Ave, MC 1140, H212
Chicago, IL 60637
2520 Elisha Ave.
Zion, IL 60099
Mesothelioma Lawsuits for Illinois Residents
The unfortunate fact is that mesothelioma is a disease that works quickly in the body, leaving victims with little time. That is why it is so vital that sufferers who wish to pursue a lawsuit contact an attorney as early as possible. Each state has its own statute of limitations for asbestos-related lawsuits, and in Illinois, it’s only two years from when the victim knew—or should have known—that he or she suffered from an asbestos-related disease, and that the disease was the result of exposure to asbestos or asbestos-containing materials. This same timeline can also apply to surviving heirs wishing to file a wrongful death suit if a family member passes away from mesothelioma.
Importantly, the two-year time limit was expanded to ten years in 2015, but only for construction-related mesothelioma cases. In any lawsuit, though, delaying can only degrade evidence and make the case more difficult to pursue successfully, so timely action is of utmost importance.
The attorneys at Neblett, Beard & Arsenault have the legal experience that mesothelioma victims and their families need to pursue the recovery that they are owed in a court of law. We work closely with patients and their families so that we can help them get the justice that they deserve in a court of law, and we do our work for you on a contingency basis—cancer patients and their families don’t pay us a thing unless we win the case in court or a settlement is reached.