The dangers of asbestos have been well known for decades. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean we are all free of its harmful effects. Workers who were exposed thirty years ago may only now be showing the first symptoms of deadly asbestos-related diseases. The asbestos industry still thrives, sometimes without employers taking proper precautions.
What are some asbestos-related diseases?
Asbestosis: The lungs can’t absorb asbestos fibers. Even the tiniest fibers resist the substance your body makes to break them down. Your lung tissue scars, you can’t breathe as well and your heart suffers from lack of oxygen.
Mesothelioma: This is a cancer of the membrane that lines the abdominal cavity and internal organs. It is fatal, and the only known cause is exposure to asbestos.
Lung Cancer: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that asbestos is a human carcinogen. The fibers can embed themselves deep in the pleura (lung lining) and stay there for years. Lung cancer can easily spread elsewhere in the body.
How can I tell if my exposure to asbestos was enough to cause lung disease?
Lung cancer symptoms tend not to show up until later stages of the disease. The best way to detect lung disease before it worsens and spreads is a chest x-ray.
I am a heavy smoker who has been diagnosed with lung cancer. I worked with asbestos years ago. Do I still have a case against my former employer?
Asbestos workers who smoke have a much greater chance of developing lung disease than asbestos workers who don’t. However, smokers are in no way less deserving of compensation for asbestos-related lung cancer. An asbestos worker who smokes was not "asking for it."
I think there is asbestos insulation in my attic. Should I have it removed?
Home insulation containing asbestos is harmless unless it is disturbed by shaking, cutting, tearing, and so on. However, when it comes to extensive remodeling, demolition, or disposal, containment becomes an issue. Only a licensed asbestos removal specialist should be permitted to handle such a project.
When I worked in a brake lining manufacturer, they had us wear those blue masks for protection. Was that enough?
No. The only masks that safely protect workers from inhalation of asbestos fibers are High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) respirators.
Is this a problem that will go away?
No. For more than 20 years, asbestos dangers have been well known. Workers exposed to high levels of asbestos were often not properly protected, even when their employers knew of the risks. Breathing dust-sized asbestos fibers has been proven to cause lung disease and cancer, especially among asbestos industry workers, yet this fibrous mineral is still mined and processed, and asbestos containing materials (ACMs) are still manufactured, sold, and distributed. Even if it were outlawed today, the diseases it causes would still be with us for decades to come. A person who breathed fibers twenty years ago may only be developing symptoms today.
If you've been exposed to asbestos, our mesothelioma lawyers can help. We also have experienced drug injury attorneys and defective medical device lawyers. We're here for you.
This law firm is not affiliated with, sponsored by, or associated with the EPA.
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