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Kevin McKie is an attorney at the Environmental Litigation Group and a partner with the Law Center.

The list of individuals who are especially at risk regarding COVID-19 infection is oft-cited in the media and well-known to many. Some common examples included on this list are the elderly, the immunocompromised and those with preexisting lung diseases. However, there is relatively little information on the intersection of asbestos exposure and COVID-19 infection, despite the clear connection in risk factors. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) highlights lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis as the three major health effects of asbestos exposure; all of which can be classified as preexisting lung diseases. Moreover, in 2017, the CDC reported that the number of mesothelioma related deaths increased from 1999 to 2015 with significant increases among persons aged 85 years and above. The latency period for asbestos exposure and the development of mesothelioma is 20 to 71 years. The CDC study indicates that many who were exposed to asbestos years ago are only now developing health effects.

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