Mesothelioma is a rare and incurable cancer disease that affects the lungs and the surrounding tissue called the pleura. Other areas of the body that may be affected include the lower abdomen, and the pericardium (a sac that encompasses the heart).
There is only one known cause of mesothelioma, exposure to asbestos.
Over the years people who have worked in different industries may have unknowingly been exposed to deadly asbestos fibers in their workplace.
The type of industries that have been known to have asbestos include shipyards, cement factories, textile shops, car brake work or shops, oil refineries, power plants, and construction sites.
People may also be exposed to asbestos from building demolition, if precautions are not taken to insure that any asbestos is cleared out before the actual demolition occurs. There are strict federal and state level guidelines for the removal of asbestos.
The danger happens when the actual asbestos fibers reach the air and then are breathed in. Once the fibers reach the lung tissue is it trapped and can't be discharged.
When viewing asbestos fibers under the microscope, you can see the spines and crystal makeup of the fibers. The medical community has generally agreed that the amount of expose needed to cause mesothelioma is anywhere from 5 to 1,200 fiber-year/mL.
The onset of mesothelioma can take up to 15-20 years to show up, this is why the courts throughout the US has been doing what's called a "Fast-Track" of these cases, as the people who suffer from mesothelioma don't have very long to live.
As a personal note on this topic, my grandfather died back in the late 1970's, his death was attributed to what the doctors called "black-lung".
He worked his entire life in the Texas shipping port town Galveston. It's now understood that he died from mesothelioma yet the doctors didn't know what the cause of his disease was at that time.
During the research for this article it was made clear that the legal community has taken notice of this rare disease, and has been actively seeking victims of this terrible lung disease, this is evident by the large number of litigation type websites that talk about mesothelioma.