Five Health Conditions Associated With Asbestos Exposure

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Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral once widely used in construction, manufacturing, and automotive repair due to its strength, heat resistance, and insulating properties. Its popularity in these industries has declined due to research that links several health conditions to asbestos exposure.

Since then, many countries have banned the use of asbestos altogether, while others work to regulate it. The United States of America, alongside Mexico, is the only OECD member country to permit industries to use asbestos.

While they have created strict laws that regulate its usage, the USA still experiences a high rate of asbestos-related conditions for a developed nation. Research estimates that 1.3 million workers in US construction and general industries are at risk of asbestos exposure. If you work in these industries and have one of the following five conditions, it may be due to asbestos exposure. It represents a failure of your employer to create a safe work environment and may entitle you to compensation in a civil court.

Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is the primary health risk associated with asbestos, which accounts for nearly 80% of all cases. It is a rare condition that can be caused by inhaling or ingesting asbestos fibers, which become stuck in the lining of the chest, lungs, or abdomen, and cause scarring and inflammation. It causes the build-up of mesothelium on the outer surfaces of the organs that can severely impact their functioning.

The more severe symptoms of mesothelioma can take decades to develop, so it is crucial for industry workers who interact with the mineral to be on the lookout for any changes in health. Symptoms associated with mesothelioma include shortness of breath, chest pain, and a persistent cough.

If you have mesothelioma, access legal help to gain compensation from your employer. Companies will often resolve these claims out of court, and some firms specialize in mesothelioma settlements that can ensure a fair agreement. Settlements can help save the claimant’s time and money required for litigation. The agreement reached in a settlement also tends to be substantial, with an average mesothelioma case settling for between 1 and 1.4 million dollars.

Asbestosis

Asbestosis is a chronic lung condition caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos, which causes an accumulation of asbestos fibers in the lungs. Unlike mesothelioma, asbestosis is lung scarring not associated with tumorous growth. It is carcinogenic, however, and increases how prone an individual is to conditions like that in the future.

Asbestosis causes lung scarring and has many of the same initial symptoms as mesothelioma. Both diseases cause shortness of breath, chest pains, and a persistent cough. It is imperative for people exposed to asbestos at work to be very careful when they experience any of these symptoms. The effects of asbestosis are irreversible, and medicine can only work to manage and slow down the progression of the disease. If you leave a cough thinking it will go away when you have asbestosis, you are waiting too long and letting the condition fester in your body.

If you have developed asbestosis, it is crucial to have a consultation with an attorney. They can help gain compensation for medical expenses, loss of potential earning capacity, and the physical and emotional distress caused by the condition. Like mesothelioma, companies are often interested in avoiding long and scandalous court proceedings and likely to give a generous settlement payment to quash the issue.

Pleural Plaques

Pleural plaques are areas of scarring on the lining of the lungs, known as the pleura, and are associated with asbestos exposure. These plaques can begin appearing on the pleura after multiple years of being exposed to asbestos.

While no symptoms are associated with pleural plaques, and they are not harmful, a pleural plaque can indicate an unhealthy and illegal level of exposure to asbestos in the past. Further, it increases the likelihood of a person developing more dangerous asbestos-related conditions, like mesothelioma, in the future. It is crucial, therefore, to consult a legal attorney if you have pleural plaques. You may be entitled to compensation from your employer for unsafe working conditions and exposure to poisonous materials.

Pleural Effusions

Pleural effusion is a condition that causes excess fluid build up between the lungs linings (pleura) and the chest wall. Unlike the previous diseases, this can occur due to multiple medical reasons, amongst which one is asbestos exposure. When the pleural effusion is asbestos-related, it is because asbestos fibers become trapped in the pleura, which causes irritation and inflammation and can lead to the build-up of fluids.

Determining whether a pleural effusion was due to asbestos exposure is a diagnosis of exclusion where medical practitioners rule out other potential causes of pleural effusion until they can conclude that asbestos was responsible. Where it is asbestos-related, it may be an early sign of an asbestos disease and should be examined and treated.

COPD

A study by the American Thoracic Society found that workers exposed to asbestos were at a significantly higher risk of developing lung-related diseases. Among the more dangerous lung conditions associated with asbestos exposure are Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). It is a progressive lung disease that causes difficulty in breathing, coughing, and other respiratory symptoms.

COPD occurs when the lungs become narrow and inflamed. It can be caused by numerous factors, from smoking to air pollution to occupational toxins like asbestos. Like asbestosis, COPD is not curable. The medicine helps slow the condition’s progression and helps with pain relief, but it cannot reverse the damage already done. Alongside this, it is also important to incorporate lifestyle changes that prevent the flare-up of this condition. It can include quitting smoking and decreasing exposure to air pollutants and occupational toxins.

Proving that your COPD is related to asbestos exposure will be more challenging than a case of mesothelioma or asbestosis due to the disease having multiple potential causes. It will be even more arduous to hold this claim in a court of law if you have a history of smoking, the more common cause of diseases like COPD. If you have occupational asbestos exposure and medical conditions associated with asbestos, like pleural plaques, your claim will be stronger. It is critical to consult your attorney to determine the strength of your case and what level of compensation you can expect.

Conclusion

Asbestos still occupies a significant place within American industry. It is used in the construction industry to create building materials, in the automotive industry for friction products like brakes, and in creating heat-resistant fabrics. If you work for a company that deals with asbestos and fall victim to any of the underlined symptoms, the first thing you do must be to contact a doctor. If your condition is related to asbestos exposure, your next step must be to find an attorney and hold your employers liable for failing to create a safe work environment.

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