Latency period is the time it takes from the date of initial exposure to asbestos to the date that symptoms of the disease develop or the actual manifestation of the disease. Although expert opinions and calculations vary, it has been typically accepted that the latency period for an asbestos related disease can be anywhere from 10 to 50 years.
For the medical profession this creates a significant problem for early detection. Those who suffer from Mesothelioma and other asbestos related malignancies such as lung cancer, colon cancer, stomach cancer or laryngeal cancer always respond better to treatment when the cancer is detected in the early stages.
For the legal profession the lengthy latency period must be taken into consideration when determining the Statute of Limitations. The time-frame one has to file a case must be calculated from the date the disease presents itself and is diagnosed rather than the actual date of exposure.
Tragedies such as 9/11 have forced the medical profession to consider a significantly shorter latency period as a distinct possibility. Deborah Reeve was the first 9/11 emergency responder to die of mesothelioma. She worked as a paramedic for the Fire Department of New York. Reeve began having symptoms of severe lung disease in early 2003 and was diagnosed with the asbestos-caused cancer in 2004. She succumbed to the disease in March 2006. Doctors agree that her exposure to asbestos was a result of her days spent working at the recovery site. Not only did this bring into question the latency period of an asbestos related condition, but the amount of exposure to asbestos that is considered dangerous. Smaller scale tragedies like the 27-year-old female white-collar worker who was diagnosed in 1998 with mesothelioma only eight and one-half years following first exposure as a bystander to debris in a site in which asbestos-containing building materials were being dismantled and rebuilding work took place are also catching the experts eye.
In addition to the accepted latency period, it is generally required to show a minimum of five years of asbestos expose to confirm an asbestos related disease. Cases such as that of Roger Hammett who was awarded $1.45 million after a jury ruled that his mesothelioma cancer was caused by asbestos exposure from a job that he held 45 years ago has shown that even minimal exposure to asbestos can be fatal. The case revealed something interesting that is not often seen in most mesothelioma cases: Hammett developed mesothelioma after only working 67 days around asbestos.
While the medical and legal professions continue to strive to find an accurate determination of what the latency period for an asbestos related disease and organizations such as OSHA and the EPA continue to perform testing and implement safety regulations based on that information that dictate required safety procedures while handling asbestos, ALL can agree on the following: Annual check-ups and open communication and follow-up with your primary physician are key to maintaining good health and when it comes to safe levels of asbestos exposure… NO EXPOSURE is the best and safest alternative.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with an asbestos related condition, such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, colon cancer, non-malignant asbestosis, and or pleural disease, delaying any asbestos claim only runs the risk of reducing any potential settlement. Protect your rights and seek legal counsel now. Our mesothelioma dedicated attorneys at Reyes, O’Shea and Coloca fight for the rights of these individuals who were unknowingly exposed and put at risk. Each case is handled individually and given the attention and priority it deserves by our carefully trained legal team.
Pathology of asbestos-associated diseases By Victor L. Roggli, Tim D. Oury, Thomas A. Sporn
What is Asbestos: E.P.A