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Asbestos litigation is the longest running mass tort litigation in the United States. The history of the litigation has been shaped by changes in the law, the rise of a sophisticated and well-capitalized plaintiff bar, heightened media attention, and to the information science revolution. Since the 1970s, asbestos exposure related illnesses and deaths have risen and become a global phenomenon.
Asbestos is a group of naturally occurring minerals with long, thin fibrous crystals. Its durability and resistance to heat, fire, electricity and chemical damage gave it the name “miracle mineral,” making it popular among manufacturers and builders of the late 19th century. However, the miracle mineral is now recognized as being highly toxic and carcinogenic.
Asbestos becomes a health hazard when asbestos containing materials disintegrate and release tiny asbestos particles into the air. These particles are often inhaled by people in close proximity and become lodged in the lung tissue causing scarring and inflammation of the lungs. This in turn affects breathing and also leads to other more serious health problems.