The History of Asbestos: From Discovery to Personal Injury

Asbestos is a well-known toxic substance now, but the origins of its usage date back thousands of years before it was known to cause diseases like mesothelioma. Some countries like the U.S. have continued to use it in a lesser capacity despite this risk. The start of its use in other durable products such as pottery mixes dates back to 2500 B.C. in Finland. However, the first discovery of its toxicity did not come until 61-112 A.D. when an Ancient Roman scholar studied slaves who became ill working the asbestos mines. It would still take another 2,000 years before scientists would connect asbestos and the illness it causes.

The revelation of the illness caused by asbestos was not made before the toxic mineral’s introduction to the American industry in 1858 when the Johns Company began mining it for use in insulation. The Industrial Revolution further fueled its production and use throughout North America, noting the first industrial asbestos mine opening in Canada in 1879. It was not until 1918 that the U.S. government would recognize the risk of asbestos shortening the life spans of those who worked with the material.

In 1930, the illness known as asbestosis was discovered in connection to asbestos exposure by Dr. Edward Merewether. As a result, industry regulations were placed on British asbestos factories. Still, they did not include the other industries that handled the substance or were involved in its installation. Asbestosis would not be reported in America for another three years. Not until the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company found asbestosis in 29% of workers in an asbestos factory leading to lawsuit settlements.

Asbestosis would not be the only long-term illness in connection with asbestos exposure. Researchers first discovered the link between asbestos exposure and cancer in 1934. The warnings for this risk of cancer relative to asbestos would not come until 1942. A year later, the first mesothelioma-like tumor was reported in Germany. By 1949, asbestos is widely understood to be harmful. Despite this acceptance, the asbestos industry will continue to ignore the warnings of health risks through the 1960s and actively bury or alter the negative research reports before they could reach the public.

The good news is that they did not get away with covering up the dangers of asbestos forever. Eventually, in 1967, the first successful personal injury claim in the U.K. was established. Additional rules closely followed in 1969, which saw the expansion of regulation beyond just the manufacturing process to include every industry that used asbestos. These regulations included requiring the use of exhaust ventilation, protective equipment, and improved handling procedures. While these improvements were welcome, it was not enough to eliminate asbestos-related diseases.

When Congress approved the Clean Air Act, it allowed the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate asbestos as a hazardous air pollutant. Like the U.K., the U.S. only saw increased regulation after the first successful personal injury claim regarding asbestos in 1971. It would not make any further significant changes until 1989 when the EPA began to phase out asbestos use in almost all products in the U.S. Meanwhile, the U.K. would only be a decade away from a complete ban of asbestos across the board. Despite the shift away from asbestos that the EPA was attempting to make, the U.S. Courts overturned the EPA Asbestos Ban in 1991 due to pressure from asbestos industry lobbyists. The powerful influence of the asbestos industry is why asbestos can still be found in products manufactured today.

Southern Baptist Leadership Mishandled Sex Abuse

After years of parishioner reports and a 2019 investigation by reporters at the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) released a report detailing sexual abuse allegations against pastors, church employees, and officials. The report shows lack of action on the part of individual churches and the greater leadership to cover up allegations and resist any reforms. The SBC is the second largest Christian denomination in the United States, with approximately 14 million members as of 2018. It is a coalition of independent churches, and members are counted as parishioners at these churches.

According to Guidepost Solutions, the independent firm chosen to perform the investigation, many of the attempts to silence accusers and prevent reforms were to avoid legal liability. The report lists many of the tactics used against the accused, including intimidation and painting accusers as opportunists. These tactics have been documented in many other sexual abuse and assault cases, used by both individuals and large and small organizations to convince accusers to recant or simply quiet down.

The History of Sex Abuse Allegations Against Churches

Although sex abuse accusations at the Catholic Church have dominated press coverage of these types of abuses, other churches have seen parishioners and others served by the church come forward with allegations of sexual abuse by clergy and lay people working for these churches. The SBC is simply the most recent large religious organization to respond to accusations.

A Christian pastor in Tennessee and Indiana pleaded guilty to sex abuse charges. Another pastor was sentenced to 105 years in prison for molesting multiple children over a period of years. An Oregon man filed a lawsuit against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints after learning that the man who abused him had abused other victims before him and was still allowed to serve in the Church. The LDS church was also sued for their alleged role in covering up cases of abuse in Boy Scout troops.

Details of the Southern Baptist Sex Abuse Report

The report, which was released in May 2022, covers sex abuse cases from 2000 to the present and is nearly 400 pages. It includes not only descriptions of specific sex abuse cases but also the responses of church leaders and the reasoning behind their actions. Additionally, the SBC released a database of nearly 700 offenses. The list was found during the investigation, as it was being kept secretly by an executive committee staff member, although the SBC has told reporters for years that gathering the names of clergy and staff who were credibly accused of sexual assault was impossible.

The database is not complete, and it only includes the names of those who have confessed to sex abuse, been convicted of it, or have been confirmed by some other criteria. Survivor names have been redacted to protect their anonymity. There are also completely redacted entries that haven’t been confirmed. Recent, high-profile cases of a youth pastor and a longtime church leader in Texas cannot be found in the database. The SBC has a link on their website for survivors to make reports.

How We Help Sex Abuse Victims 

Our national sexual abuse lawyers work one-on-one with survivors, offering a direct, personal level of care and discretion. We use our decades of experience battling big organizations to fight on behalf of survivors, aggressively taking on those responsible for causing pain and suffering. If you are a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, we can help.

Lung Cancer Screening Boosts 20-Year Survival Rate to 80%

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women in the U.S., accounting for nearly 25 percent of all deaths from the disease. Although this statistic may be grim, the results of a new international study provide hope. In the study, researchers discovered that regular screening for lung cancer using a CT scan enables early identification of the disease, in turn significantly impacting the long-term survival rate.

Currently, lung cancer screening is limited to people deemed to be high risk. However, there has been some discussion regarding whether screening should be extended to people exposed to asbestos or second-hand smoke.

What is the Survival Rate for Lung Cancer?

According to the American Lung Association, lung cancer has a five-year survival rate of 18.6 percent. This is far lower than many other types of cancer, such as colorectal (64.5 percent), breast (89.6 percent), and prostate (98.2 percent). Survival rate refers to the percentage of people who survive a certain type and stage of cancer for a specific amount of time.

By the time symptoms appear, lung cancer is often advanced. Currently, only 16 percent of lung cancer is caught early and more than half of people die within a year of diagnosis. This underscores the importance of detecting lung cancer at an early stage through an annual screening program.

About the Lung Cancer Research Study

For the study, named the International Early Lung Cancer Action Program, researchers examined lung cancer survival rates for over 87,000 participants. Of those participants, 1,285 were screened using a low-dose CT scan. Performed annually, the screening allowed for the early detection of lung cancer. Of the 1,285 participants who were screened, 83 percent were diagnosed with early-stage cancer (stage one). Their overall 20-year survival rate was 80 percent.

The survival rate of participants also depended on the classification of their lung nodule. A solitary lung nodule is a small abnormal area measuring up to three centimeters in size. A pulmonary lesion greater than three centimeters is classified as a lung mass. Nodules are further classified as solid, subsolid (part-solid), or nonsolid.

Classification of Lung Cancer Nodules

  • Solid nodules completely obscure the entire lung parenchyma (the portion of the lung involved in gas transfer) within it.
  • Subsolid nodules have sections that are solid.
  • Nonsolid nodules have no solid parts.

In the study, researchers found that the long-term survival rate was 100 percent for participants who had a nonsolid or part-solid nodule consistency. The long-term survival rate for participants with a solid nodule consistency was 73 percent. The researchers further reported that there were no lung cancer deaths for participants with part-solid and nonsolid nodules.

If lung cancer is small enough and can be surgically removed, patients can be effectively cured long-term.

What is the Link Between Asbestos Exposure and Lung Cancer?

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), there is evidence that exposure to asbestos causes lung cancer and mesothelioma (a rare cancer of the thin membranes that line the chest and abdomen), as well as other types of cancer, including cancers of the larynx and ovaries. It is thought that most mesotheliomas are due to asbestos exposure.

Asbestos exposure may also increase the risk of asbestosis, an inflammatory condition affecting the lungs that may cause permanent lung damage, as well as other non-malignant lung and pleural disorders.

Asbestos has been classified as a known human carcinogen (a substance that causes cancer) by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and IARC.