Worldwide, asbestos exposure can impact nearly anyone from schoolchildren to auto mechanics to factory workers to miners. When these fibers are inhaled or ingested, the results can be devastating – and often deadly.
With heat-resistant properties, asbestos fibers were used in numerous materials over the course of several decades. From floor tiles to steam pipes to protective clothing, asbestos fibers were woven, painted or blended with other materials. As these products broke down, however, the fibers themselves became airborne – small enough to be inhaled which can lead to serious consequences.
While the symptoms of exposure can vary depending on numerous factors, there are four major asbestos-related diseases.
- Pleural plaques: Often the earliest signs of asbestos exposure, pleural plaques are areas of white, smooth, raised scar tissue on the outer lining of the lung, internal chest wall and diaphragm.
- Asbestosis: After heavy, prolonged exposure to asbestos, individuals might experience shortness of breath, coughing and permanent lung damage. The chronic condition asbestosis is caused by inflammation or scarring in the lungs.
- Lung cancer: Exposure to asbestos coupled with smoking can increase the risk of developing lung cancer. These cancerous tumors mainly occur in the lining of the tubes leading into the lungs, the smaller airways or the middle of the lungs.
- Mesothelioma: With a confirmed history of significant asbestos exposure, individuals are likely to develop the deadly cancer mesothelioma. This cancer attacks the tissue that lines the body cavities, particularly the chest and abdominal cavities.
If you are struggling with an asbestos-related illness, it is crucial that you discuss your situation with an experienced attorney.