How Asbestos Diseases Affect Older Americans

For several decades prior to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) placing strict regulations on the use of asbestos, millions of people were exposed on a daily basis to one of the most harmful minerals to humans. Asbestos, once used for its fire and heat-resistant properties, is the underlying cause for diseases such as mesothelioma cancer and asbestosis. Older Americans, particularly between the ages of 50 through 70, are diagnosed more than any other age group for asbestos-related diseases. Most of these people were exposed to asbestos while working at job sites that contained asbestos in products, buildings, equipment, and machinery.

Older Americans are Still Being Affected

According to the Environmental Working Group, at least one out of every 125 men over the age of 50 dies as a result of an asbestos-related disease. Unfortunately, the majority of senior citizens who currently live with an asbestos-related illness have no idea they had developed the disease until they were already in their later years of life. The symptoms of these diseases lie dormant for several decades. In fact, it can sometimes take up to 50 years for the first signs of an asbestos illness to occur. When the symptoms finally arrive, many victims still aren’t diagnosed since the symptoms closely mimic the common cold and other typical respiratory ailments. What this means is that a plethora of older Americans are being diagnosed with a fatal disease 20 or more years after their exposure to asbestos. In fact, the average age of newly diagnosed malignant mesothelioma patients is typically between 63 to 65 years of age.

What Can Be Done

Most senior citizens already face more risks for infections and other ailments because of their age. Therefore, it’s imperative for anyone who may have worked around asbestos to seek regular checkups from a physician who understands and specialises in asbestos-related diseases. If you or a loved one are unsure if you’ve worked around asbestos, it’s important to research companies and industries that were known to have used asbestos prior to the EPA regulations in the late 1970s.

Per the National Cancer Institute, some of the most common industries and occupations associated with the use of asbestos include:

• Construction, including roofing and fireproofing
• Paper mills
• Automotive repair shops, plants, and factories
• Military barracks, ships, planes, and machinery
• Hospitals and schools
• Chemical plants
• Oil rigs

For more information on asbestos, including medical information and mesothelioma legal options for those who are victim to the carelessness and negligence from companies, manufacturers, and employers, visit

Shared with permission from Kaitlin Wilson, Outreach Coordinator at the Mesothelioma Lawyer Center