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Workers in many occupations are concerned about asbestos exposure. From auto mechanics to construction workers to teachers, individuals worry about the possibility of developing a devastating lung disease including the deadly cancer mesothelioma. There are numerous facts, however, about asbestos exposure that workers across occupations don’t realize.

Here are five facts about asbestos and mesothelioma that workers in at-risk occupations should know.

  1. The inhalation of asbestos fibers causes the materials to become lodged in the lining of the lungs. This can lead to inflammation and scarring. Ultimately, this can result in difficulty breathing and numerous lung diseases.
  2. While it is agreed that there is no safe level of asbestos exposure, individuals are more likely to develop asbestos-related conditions if they are exposed to high concentrations of asbestos for longer periods of time. Additionally, friends and family members can experience secondary asbestos exposure if the harmful materials are attached to a worker’s skin, hair or clothing.
  3. Most asbestos-related diseases are diagnosed decades after the primary exposure. Many cases come to light 30, 40 or even 50 years after exposure.
  4. The deterioration of an individual’s health can continue long after exposure to asbestos has ceased.
  5. There might be early indications of mesothelioma, including pleural effusion (fluid around the lungs), thickening of the lining of the lungs, plaques or calcification around the lungs.

Exposure to asbestos increases the risk of developing asbestosis, mesothelioma or other devastating conditions. While it is a worldwide problem, more than 3000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year in the United States alone. If you are concerned that you or a loved one was exposed to asbestos at any time in your past, it is wise to seek the guidance of medical and legal professionals.