Asbestos Exposure – The Hard Facts
Asbestos, once a popular insulation and construction material, has long been recognized as a severe health risk for those exposed. Those who have worked in certain industries are particularly vulnerable to asbestos exposure. Those industries include construction, steel-making, power generation, and fields that deal with industrial chemicals.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, asbestos exposure can be responsible for several adverse health conditions. Even short exposures can be harmful to a person’s health. Asbestos fibers, which are too small to see with the naked eye, may enter a worker’s lungs if the material has been disturbed or handled. Asbestos fibers can cause scarring in the lungs which is called asbestosis. This condition can damage lung function and eventually cause disability or death.
Asbestos exposure can also cause lung cancer and mesothelioma. Lung cancer is one of the most aggressive forms of cancer, and both lung cancer and mesothelioma can be fatal. Mesothelioma, according to the American Cancer Association, is a cancer that attacks the linings of certain parts of the body, especially in the linings of the chest or abdomen.
These asbestos-related conditions present troubling symptoms. Per the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, asbestosis’s primary symptom is shortness of breath during physical exertion. Other common symptoms include fatigue and a dry cough. Additionally, the lungs may make a crackling noise, which a doctor can hear with a stethoscope.
Like asbestosis, lung cancer can cause extreme breathing trouble. It may also cause frequent infections of the lungs. Other signs include a worsening or persistent cough, the coughing up of blood, fatigue, and unexplained weight loss. Though it’s an aggressive, deadly disease, lung cancer often goes undetected until it has reached a late stage. At that point, treatment options may not be as effective.
Unexplained weight loss and breathing problems can also be symptoms of mesothelioma, according to the National Institutes of Health. Mesothelioma’s other symptoms include pain felt under the rib cage, as well as pain, swelling, or lumps in a person’s abdomen. Unfortunately, like lung cancer, mesothelioma often avoids detection until it is in an advanced stage.
What makes these conditions difficult to detect is that they often do not show up until long after the original exposure to asbestos. The average time from first exposure to asbestos until lung cancer or mesothelioma is diagnosed is 20-40 years. Additionally, there is much overlap between the symptoms of these three conditions, and extensive testing may be necessary to determine which one is affecting a person. But no matter the condition, it’s important to take it seriously. All three can severely affect a person’s quality of life or cause death.
If you or a loved one has one of these asbestos-related conditions due to asbestos exposure at the workplace, or if you think you may have been exposed to asbestos at your workplace, then you need to contact an asbestos lawyer. If you’re looking for legal counsel on West Virginia asbestos exposure, or need a Pennsylvania asbestos lawyer, contact the experienced firm of Goldberg, Persky & White by calling 1-800-471-3980.