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Mesothelioma; Why Me?


The odds of getting mesothelioma are .002%. And that’s in Canada where the cases of mesothelioma are significantly higher than average. In contrast the odds of being killed in an accident are 1%.

The vast majority of Canadians have never heard of mesothelioma. Yet when medical personnel ask you where you were exposed to asbestos, that feeling of dread cannot be dispelled even if you don’t actually know what mesothelioma is. You know it’s bad when exposure to asbestos is linked to what is wrong with you.

Mesothelioma is linked to asbestos exposure of much less duration that exposure that causes asbestosis. With the advent of knowledge that inhaling asbestos could cause asbestosis, there was a push for better ventilation and improved working conditions. Equipment to lower dust particulates reduced the number of severe asbestosis cases and asbestos workers lived longer lives.. To the dismay of medical researchers’ lower levels of exposure to asbestos puts workers and their families at greater risk of contracting mesothelioma.

How much exposure to asbestos is enough to cause mesothelioma? One day. This could be an 8-hour work day or being near a person who worked with asbestos products and brought dust home on their clothes and in their hair for 10 minutes a day over a period of 48 days. 

So many of our summer jobs as young adults were jobs such as roofing, road repair work, construction or even pumping gas. All these industries used asbestos containing products. The job that paid your way through University may have exposed you to enough asbestos to cause mesothelioma.

As the use of asbestos was so prevalent, if you were alive in Canada before 1982, chances are high that you have been exposed to some asbestos. If your parents or grandparents worked in a factory or at a trade there is a very real possibility that asbestos fibres travelled into their vehicles and homes.

We are seeing a rise in cases involving second hand or bystander exposure. For example, children of mothers who worked in munitions factories during WWII. These children are now in their 70’s and being diagnosed with mesothelioma despite no other significant contact with asbestos during their lifetime. The incubation period, which was previously thought to be a maximum of 50 years, has been adjusted upwards.

The only additional risk factor that researchers believe increases the risk of mesothelioma in those that have had exposure to asbestos is being a cigarette or cigar smoker. If you were a smoker you cannot change the past. If you are a current smoker, and have had exposure to asbestos, stopping may reduce your risk.

Once those asbestos particles are lodged in the lungs or stomach they are undetectable. Perhaps pleural plaques may form around the fibres as the body attempts to isolate the contagion that would give a hint to doctors that exposure to asbestos has previously occurred. It should be said however that only a very small percentage of those diagnosed with pleural plaques go on to develop to mesothelioma.

Being diagnosed with mesothelioma brings on grief; then rage. Why me? Because the manufacturers of asbestos products failed to stop mining and using a mineral that they knew could lead to disability and death. This could have been prevented if the leaders in the industry had put workers ahead of profit.

When the asbestos ban is implemented no new asbestos products will make their way into the marketplace, however it will take generations for the materials already installed to be abated. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, use that rage to heighten awareness to prevent ongoing exposure by children and young adults. Prevention is currently the only known cure.

Commercial and residential buildings as well as industrial settings constructed before 1980 almost certainly contain some asbestos products.  Tell your friends and neighbors to test before they renovate. It may save a child’s life. Fires in older buildings continue to put firefighters and other first responders at risk.

If you have not been referred to the mesothelioma clinic at UHN in Toronto, speak to your doctor about a referral. You do not need to live in Toronto, or Ontario for that matter, to seek treatment.  This clinic treats over half of the mesothelioma cases diagnosed in Canada each year. 

Get involved with a mesothelioma support group such as the one run by the Canadian Mesothelioma Foundation. No one is going to understand your anger better than other mesothelioma victims. Encourage your family to get support for themselves. The grief and anger they are feeling is intense knowing but for past corporate greed, this could have been prevented.

As a law firm, our role is to obtain compensation for Canadians diagnosed with mesothelioma. This is a very niche practice area and very few law firms in Canada are set up to directly handle claims in house. Most refer your case to a mega law firm in the USA and take a referral fee for doing so. That is not the case at Brown Law Office. We personally handle your claim so that when you deal with us you work with people who know you and recognize your name when you call the office. Contact us if you are exploring your compensation options. Consultations are free and come with no obligation.