Asbestos exposure is a growing concern all across the nation, as thousands of people who were exposed decades ago are developing deadly health conditions. Mesothelioma deaths, asbestosis, and other related conditions are on the rise everywhere—even in Rhode Island.
What Is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a form of cancer. This fast-moving disease attacks the mesothelium, a thin layer of cells that covers many organs in the body, particularly the lungs, heart, and abdominal cavity. Mesothelioma is aggressive, and most often compromises the lungs due to asbestos exposure, causing a form of the diseases known as pleural mesothelioma.
There are several other types of mesothelioma, though they are less common. Peritoneal mesothelioma attacks the abdominal lining; and pericardial mesothelioma attacks the thin lining around the heart. In extremely rare cases, mesothelioma has been known to affect tissues surrounding the testicles as well.
The symptoms of this cancer depend on the specific type of mesothelioma, and are easy to mistake for other conditions. Unfortunately, no matter what type of mesothelioma it is, it's almost always fatal in a short amount of time.
According to the American Cancer Society, the survival rate for the earliest detectable stages of mesothelioma, stage IA, is less than half after two years, and only 16 percent of sufferers survive for five years after diagnosis. Later stages of diagnosis have even worse outcomes. A stage IV mesothelioma sufferer faces an average survival rate of roughly 17 percent, and a five-year outlook of less than one percent.
Sources of Asbestos in Rhode Island
Though the source of every mesothelioma case isn’t always known, the development of this type of cancer is strongly linked to asbestos exposure.
Asbestos is a combination of silica-bearing minerals that come from the earth naturally. It can be found both in large underground deposits that consist nearly entirely of silicate, and in deposits mixed with other minerals such as talc.
As asbestos forms in the earth, it grows in fine, thin fibers, which have many delicate whisker-like strands. When asbestos is handled, these fibrous strands break apart, launching microscopic crystal shards into the air, even after decades of being processed into goods and materials.
Inhaling these fibers lodges them in the body, which is the primary reason why they're believed to be the cause of mesothelioma. Asbestos fibers also contaminate soil and water for years, leading to exposure by inhalation or consumption years after the apparent risk has faded.
Asbestos is so common because at one time, it provided useful applications in various industries because it was an inexpensive and available material for fireproofing and electrical insulation. In the early 1980s, reports of extensive health risks related to the substance came to light, and numerous companies specializing in manufacturing, construction, mining, shipbuilding, energy, and others had to enact new regulations for asbestos handling, removal, and exposure.
In Rhode Island, Providence was home of many factories over time that produced a wide variety of goods. They either made products involving asbestos, or had processes utilizing asbestos. Manufacturing facilities were likely constructed using asbestos-bearing products as well, such as roofing tiles, flooring, pipe insulation, and other building materials.
Other locations or industries that pose a risk asbestos contact in Rhode Island include:
- The military. Like many other military installations, the naval base in Newport was constructed using a significant amount of the material. Many of the shipbuilding and repair activities performed at naval bases also use asbestos or asbestos-containing components regularly, leading to a high risk of exposure. The McAllister Point Landfill is contains large amounts of asbestos-contaminated wastes. In 1989, the area was added to the EPA Superfund List so that asbestos remediation efforts could begin.
- Shipyards. Civilian and military shipyards both face a high risk of asbestos exposure, because the material was used extensively during the shipbuilding process for decades. In addition, the facilities are often older, and constructed using materials made with the toxic fibers.
- Breweries. There are a surprising number of breweries in Rhode Island, making it a popular industry. Many of them may be located in older buildings constructed with large amounts of asbestos.
- Construction. Individuals who work in the construction or demolition fields are at great risk for asbestos exposure, especially when working on remodeling or renovation of existing older structures. The material was used for everything from roofing to flooring products; as insulation in walls; and as electrical insulation around wires. People who live in older homes can also be at risk, particularly if a disaster or accident strikes, damaging the structure and releasing dangerous fibers into the air.
There are many individual locations that are known to have contained, suspected to have contained, or could possibly have exposed workers to asbestos or asbestos-bearing components or materials, such as:
- AC & S, Inc.
- Biltmore Textile
- Brand Insulation Company
- Eastern Supply Company
- Narragansett Brewery
- Naval Station Newport
- Naval Air Station Quonset Point
- Owens-Corning Fiberglass Company
- Providence College
- Rhode Island Hospital
- Walsh Kaiser Shipyard
Mesothelioma Treatment Centers in Rhode Island
Though there's not a cure for mesothelioma, sufferers may find value in proper treatment and improve their quality of life. There are several options for treatment centers, cancer research facilities, and support groups in Rhode Island and in nearby states, including:
- Comprehensive Cancer Center at Rhode Island Hospital
593 Eddy St.
Providence, RI 02903
- Comprehensive Cancer Center at Miriam Hospital
164 Summit Avenue
Fain Building, 3rd Fl.
Providence, RI 02906
- Lifespan Cancer Institute at Newport Hospital
20 Powel Ave.
Newport, RI 02840
- Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center
450 Brookline Ave., BP332A
Boston, MA 02215
- Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
500 Main St., Bldg. 76
Cambridge MA, 02139-4307
Filing a Mesothelioma Lawsuit in Rhode Island
Mesothelioma is a fast-moving and aggressive cancer, so it’s important that victims seeking compensation begin a lawsuit early to receive compensation for expenses related to the disease, including the costs for:
- Physical therapy
- Skilled care
Sufferers in Rhode Island must file a lawsuit within three years of the date of diagnosis or risk losing their legal right to make a claim. Surviving family members also have three years from the date of death of a loved one.
The attorneys at Neblett, Beard & Arsenault are ready to help with your mesothelioma claim. Our firm works closely with mesothelioma sufferers and their families to get the justice they deserve in a court of law. We work on a contingency basis—this means victims or their families don’t owe us anything unless a settlement is reached or we win your case in court.