Asbestos Exposure

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Asbestos is the name given to a group of naturally occurring fibrous minerals. These minerals all have similar properties they're extremely durable, are resistant to heat, chemicals, electricity, and fire, and can be separated into very thin threads. This makes them very useful for construction materials. Asbestos was often used for insulation around pipes, wires, hot water heaters, and in walls and ceilings. Since it was a fiber, it was even woven in to some clothing to make it fire-resistant industrial workers that had to work around extremely high heat often wore this type of clothing.

Unfortunately, this material that was so useful was found to have extremely adverse effects on human health. Asbestos exposure has been shown to cause lung cancer, severe scarring of the lung tissue (asbestosis), and a rare but aggressive cancer known as mesothelioma. Mesothelioma affects the thin lining of the lungs, heart, and stomach known as the mesothelium. In all these diseases, asbestos fibers are breathed in and lodge themselves in and around the lungs. Once in place, they do damage to the surrounding tissues.

Lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis usually take a prolonged exposure in order to have an affect. However, mesothelioma has been known to occur in people who were exposed to asbestos for only a few months. These diseases usually take a long time to set in since asbestos fibers are so durable, they can often remain in the body doing damage for years, and the disease might not show up until decades later.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimated that at one time some 700,000 commercial and public buildings had some form of asbestos in them. Many churches, schools, and private homes also used the material. Most of these buildings still have asbestos in them. Fortunately, as long as the asbestos remained undisturbed, it poses no health risk to a building's inhabitants. However, if the asbestos is somehow disturbed through damage to the building, demolition, or renovation the fibers can be released into the air putting construction workers, inhabitants, and anyone in the area at risk for exposure.

Asbestos exposure can be a frightening thing. If you suspect that you have been exposed to it, then you should consult with a doctor as soon as possible. You should also talk to an attorney who will be able to advise you on your rights when it comes to asbestos exposure. Asbestos only becomes dangerous if it is broken or crumbled. If this happens, the harmful fibers are released into the air and get into the respiratory system. Since it is so dangerous, it is usually only allowed to be used in filters and gaskets due to its great heat resistant qualities.

There are a variety of lawyers who specialize in cases involving asbestos. Therefore, if you have been exposed to it, you should definitely talk to one. If it can be proven that you were exposed to asbestos, you could be eligible for a large settlement. If you can't find a lawyer who specializes in asbestos cases, any lawyer will be able to help you.

There is no cure yet for asbestosis or mesothelioma. In cases of asbestosis, the patient will normally be closely monitored to make sure that mesothelioma or lung cancer does not develop. If it does, the doctors may be able to catch it in time to greatly improve the prognosis of the patient. Due to the shortness of breath in asbestosis, a lot of people choose oxygen therapy at home. Aerosol medications are also commonly used for treatment.


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