Throughout the earlier and mid twentieth century, asbestos was the material of choice for use in insulation products. It was an extremely versatile group of compounds, and possessed heat transferring properties that made it ideally suitable to use in insulation in heating systems, ship building and other uses. Ehret Block was a pre-formed insulation block manufactured by the Ehret Magnesia Manufacturing Company, which is one of hundreds of companies that have been involved in lawsuits filed by mesothelioma patients, who contracted the disease as the result of inhaling fibers from asbestos-containing products.
The company was located at the Valley Forge National Historical Park . In 1997, the Park authorities found asbestos contamination in the ground as they prepared to lay a fiber optic cable. The asbestos was traced back to the use of the park site as a dumping ground for asbestos waste from the late nineteenth century to the twentieth century.
From the early 1900s to the 1970s, hundreds of thousands of workers who worked with asbestos-related products in the construction business, or were involved in insulation procedures that made use of asbestos, were exposed to the toxic fibers.
These fibers upon inhalation, lodge themselves in the lining of the lungs. Although many heath problems have been traced back to asbestos inhalation, the most common and signature diseases of asbestos inhalation are mesothelioma and asbestosis. These two diseases are exclusively caused by asbestos fiber inhalation, and their long latency period, sometimes exceeding 40 years, causes them to be diagnosed late, thereby making them more dangerous.
Many companies have over the years been charged in mesothelioma and asbestosis cases. At least 75 companies have filed bankruptcy papers, after the onslaught of lawsuits relating to the diseases caused by fiber inhalation from their products. Take into consideration the fact that a single patient could file against as many as 20 defendants, and it is entirely possible that as many as 10 million lawsuits have been filed.
Analysts predict that the peak of asbestos-related lawsuits is yet to come. Since the bulk of contamination occurred in the seventies during the construction boom, it is entirely possible that more cases of mesothelioma which can be traced back to inhalation of the fiber in the seventies will show up. Since the cases extend to those who have suffered even minimal exposure to asbestos, say for instance from insulation materials and products like Ehret blocks, we will see more cases of mesothelioma and asbestosis in the future.