Asbestos-related diseases have impacted the lives of thousands. There are a variety of strains, but they are generally hard to diagnose and treat. None more so than mesothelioma, which is a rare and malignant form of cancer that affects the outer lining of a human being’s internal organs. It can then spread to other parts of the body and cause severe, if not fatal, results.
A natural mineral, asbestos was once regarded as a wonder material used to insulate against heat and sound and even resisted corrosion. This means that it was used in the construction of buildings and ships, insulation for furnaces and car brakes. But, unfortunately, it breaks down, and fibers become airborne when the materials are disturbed (such as during repairs, renovations, removal, or maintenance), and these particles can be inhaled or ingested. There is no safe level for asbestos contamination.
Asbestos in your workplace
The World Health Organization estimates that 125 million people work in a place that has large quantities of asbestos. Common occupations a worker will come in contact with it include:
- Textile mills
An estimated 27 million workers in the U.S. were exposed between 1940-1979 (when laws regulating it went into effect).
It can take years for symptoms to appear
The severity of the exposure dictates how quickly the symptoms appear. These include:
- Swelling of the neck and face
- Difficulty swallowing
- Shortness of breath
- High blood pressure
- Crackling sound when breathing
Seek help immediately
Anyone who experiences the above symptoms should get medical help as soon as possible. Patients or family members who think that the illness may be related to a previous exposure at work should notify the doctor. It may also be necessary to talk to an attorney about the potential for seeking compensation from a $30 billion asbestos trust fund set up to help victims. Employers are also required by law to provide safety equipment to those likely to encounter asbestos. Those who find out that they have mesothelioma, lung cancer or other common symptoms would be wise to seek compensation with the help of a knowledgeable personal injury attorney.