A Utah woman recently brought a mesothelioma lawsuit against the manufacturer of a joint compound product that she and her husband used to build two homes in the 1970s. Joint compounds, also known as drywall compounds, are plaster-like substances used to seal the spaces between pieces of drywall. Drywall compounds manufactured before the 1980s frequently contained asbestos, which is why many construction workers and contractors have developed mesothelioma.
The woman's lawsuit alleges that she and her husband constructed their Utah homes with virtually no help from others. It was during the construction process that she and her husband were heavily exposed to asbestos-containing products. The lawsuit alleges that the woman sanded down the asbestos-laced joint compound products and cleaned up areas covered in asbestos dust.
The inhalation of asbestos fibers from the joint compounds likely caused the woman to develop cancer. The woman eventually developed peritoneal mesothelioma, a type of mesothelioma that develops in a person's stomach. The stomach organs and abdominal cavity support the peritoneum, which is a membranous layer where mesothelioma can develop if asbestos fibers become lodged in it. Asbestos fibers can spur the growth of cancer cells and thicken the peritoneum. The thickened peritoneum can cause fluid buildup that leads to tumors.
Peritoneal mesothelioma has a long latency period like other forms of mesothelioma. The symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include fatigue, anemia, abdominal pain and nausea, among other things. These symptoms are common with a variety of ailments, which is why mesothelioma often goes undiagnosed for extended periods of time.
The manufacturer of the joint compound contended that its product was not dangerous and did not cause the woman's mesothelioma. These allegations were rebutted by a variety of respected mesothelioma researchers and doctors.
"It is widely accepted in the scientific and medical community that mesothelioma, including peritoneal mesothelioma, can be caused in humans by exposure to asbestos, including chrysotile asbestosis," one expert said in support of the woman's case. "The consensus of the medical and scientific community supports the conclusion that both pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma are signature diseases caused by exposure to asbestos, including chrysotile asbestos."
Chrysotile asbestos has been linked to forms of mesothelioma besides peritoneal mesothelioma. Chrysotile asbestos can cause pleural mesothelioma, which grows around a person's lungs, and pericardial mesothelioma, which is a rare form of mesothelioma that impacts a person's bloodstream and heart lining.