Firefighters and Mesothelioma
Our nation’s firefighters are among the bravest, most selfless men and women to serve this country and protect its citizens. Each day, firefighters put their lives at risk to save the lives and property of others. While firefighters are trained to understand and minimize the many dangers they face on a daily basis, millions of these unsung heroes have faced, and continue to face, the serious threats of toxic asbestos exposure.
Since the late 1970s, the risks of asbestos exposure have been well known to most Americans; however, what many people do not realize is that toxic levels of asbestos remain present in public buildings, private residences, and other structures across the country. Often, even though owners of these properties have taken measures to seal off areas containing asbestos, the complete removal of the substance proves too costly or difficult. When these structures are destroyed by fire, therefore, deadly asbestos fibers are released into the air, where they can be inhaled by anyone within breathing range. While the firefighters who enter these structures wear masks and self-contained breathing apparatuses to limit their exposure to toxic materials, these safety precautions do not entirely eliminate the risk of asbestos exposure. Furthermore, those firefighters who remain outside of the structures generally do not wear the same protective gear.
In many cases, the presence of asbestos fibers at the scene of a fire is not known until air quality samples have been analyzed. In an unfortunate turn of irony, even many older firehouses are outfitted with asbestos, as it remains one of the most effective fire-proofing agents in existence.
The Risk of Mesothelioma among Firefighters
Mesothelioma is an insidious disease, often taking many years to manifest itself. This means that modern firefighters are not the only ones at risk for the disease. In fact, those who were active firefighters between the 1930s and 1980s are particularly vulnerable to mesothelioma. During this period, asbestos was not only commonly used in construction, but it was also used in much of the safety gear worn by firefighters.
If you have served or currently serve as a firefighter, it is vital that you visit your doctor regularly and seek immediate medical attention if you exhibit any of the symptoms of mesothelioma. If you have already been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you should contact a qualified mesothelioma attorney today if you would like to learn more about your legal rights and options.
9/11 and Mesothelioma
Perhaps the most dramatic and tragic recent example of widespread asbestos exposure is the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. The World Trade Center contained roughly 400 tons of asbestos that were released into the air when the buildings collapsed. Thousands of first responders, including hundreds of firefighters, were exposed to this asbestos before they had an opportunity to equip themselves with respirators and other protective gear. Already, one of these first responders, an emergency medical technician named Deborah Reeve, died of mesothelioma in 2006, while thousands of others have respiratory problems. It is possible that, over the coming years and decades, many of these first responders will develop mesothelioma.
Contact a Mesothelioma Attorney
Firefighters are heroes in every sense of the word. While no one should ever have to cope with an illness as serious and deadly as mesothelioma, this is particularly true of those who develop the disease because of their noble dedication to the public good. If you or a member of your family has served as a firefighter and been diagnosed with mesothelioma, we invite you to contact an experienced asbestos attorney today.