Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos Exposure

If you have experienced a diagnosis of mesothelioma from asbestos exposure, you may be eligible for compensation. Contact our office today to learn about the mesothelioma claim process and get started.

For the last hundred years, asbestos use in building materials has been common. Many construction workers and manufacturers have experienced asbestos exposure for decades. As a natural substance, asbestos is known to cause dangerous human health effects. In the last 30 years, thousands of asbestos-related cases have been reported. If you have been exposed to asbestos, you have suffered some harm. This article is a comprehensive guide to the dangers of asbestos exposure. Read on to learn more about its effects, diagnosis, and treatment options.

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral found in several rock types worldwide. It is usually colored brown, grey, or white and appears as small, flat, or curly crystals.  It was first mined commercially in the mid-19th century. It was used to make some of the earliest artificial materials, including:

  • roofing shingles
  • insulation
  • brake linings
  • and many other things.

Asbestos continues to be used in various construction and industrial applications. It is in products such as roofing, gaskets, electrical components, and many other things. Upon inhaling asbestos, it can enter the digestive tract. Absorption can also happen through the skin. This contact with asbestos is known to cause mesothelioma and other related illness. Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer and almost always deadly.

You may be eligible for compensation if you have experienced a mesothelioma diagnosis from asbestos exposure. Contact our office today to learn about the mesothelioma claim process and get started.

Asbestos Exposure at Job Sites

The U.S. Department of Labor estimates 350,000 workers may be exposed to asbestos at worksites each year. While the dangers of this naturally occurring mineral have been known for years, contractors have only recently begun to take action. While knowing what asbestos is important, it's also imperative to understand how to stay safe while working with this material. Unfortunately, while many contractors have started to take more precautions, many still aren't adequately protecting their employees.

Most construction sites that use asbestos materials are still in the early planning stages. However, when asbestos is disturbed, as with a digger, sander, or other tools, it can release several carcinogenic particles.

How to Stay Safe When Working with Asbestos

Do not disturb the asbestos material. Disturbing the material includes:

  • Digging at or near the fabric.
  • Using a power tool near the material.
  • Grinding or sanding.

If you must move a tool near asbestos material, put it in a truck or a storage container that is hooded and ventilated. It is essential to remember not to disturb the asbestos material. This includes not touching the material and not touching tools that have been near the material.

Who Has Been Exposed to Asbestos?

Asbestos was commonly used in military facilities for insulation, fireproofing, or heat resistance pipes. Those in the Navy are at an incredibly high risk of exposure because the insulating properties of asbestos make it ideal for shipbuilding. Asbestos cloth and tape were also used for the equipment, such as the radar or supersonic airplane engines.

Exposure at a job site can be a real problem for construction workers, shipyard workers, and military personnel. Construction workers in shipyards are particularly at risk because they often handle asbestos-containing materials. They may also have to perform maintenance on machinery that uses asbestos, increasing their chances of exposure.

Trades with the most asbestos exposure are:

Symptoms of Asbestos Exposure

Finding out you are experiencing asbestos exposure can be challenging. The symptoms of its exposure vary depending on the type of asbestos fiber inhaled. Some people aren't affected, while others will experience: itchy eyes, a sore throat, and headaches.

Asbestos-related illnesses usually occur 10 to 40 years after exposure. There are no known measures for preventing asbestos-related diseases once exposed. Medications can treat severe respiratory problems, which may help improve life expectancy.

Many people exposed to asbestos do not experience any symptoms, and when symptoms do occur, they may be subtle. Some people may experience a mild, flu-like illness easily mistaken for the common cold. However, symptoms are much more severe, and severe diseases can occur. These symptoms may include:

  • shortness of breath
  • chest tightness
  • coughing
  • wheezing
  • chest pain
  • and difficulty breathing.

People exposed to asbestos often have a chronic cough that causes them to produce large amounts of phlegm.

Diagnosis of Asbestos Exposure

People exposed to asbestos may develop serious health problems, including lung cancer, scarring, and mesothelioma. A doctor will ask about your medical history and perform a physical examination to detect exposure. A chest x-ray is usually the next step in diagnosing it. Other tests can be blood tests, pulmonary function tests, and CT or PET scans.

How is Asbestos Exposure Detected?

You may experience any of the following symptoms with asbestos exposure:

  • Shortness of breath. When asbestos is present in a home or building, fibers can be released into the air and inhaled by residents. Those fibers can become lodged in the lungs and bronchial tubes, causing breathing problems.
  • Chest pain and tightness. Chest pain is a common symptom. Some people describe it as an elephant sitting on their chest, and others compare it to a heavyweight pushing down on them. Chest pain can sometimes be relieved by taking deep breaths or lying down. The lungs or chest wall pain is usually worse with activity or exercise. People exposed to asbestos may think they are suffering from a common cold, with symptoms such as chest tightness, inflammation, swelling of the chest tissue, and difficulty breathing. Because of their non-specific nature, these symptoms often go ignored.
  • Wheezing can indicate a severe respiratory condition called asbestosis, which causes scarred and stiff lungs.
  • Mesothelioma cancer tends to stay localized in the chest and abdominal organs.
  • Coughing. Asbestos does not have a taste, color, or odor. It is not easy to detect. The first warning sign of asbestos fibers in the air is coughing. Coughing is the body's natural way of trying to expel fibers.

These symptoms can indicate various health problems, including viral illnesses like the common cold. In such cases, a doctor may perform a complete physical examination. If a doctor does not make any other diagnosis for your symptoms, you may want to speak with a lawyer or medical malpractice attorney about your case.

Cancers Caused By Asbestos Exposure

  • Mesothelioma: Asbestos is the primary cause of mesothelioma, a form of cancer affecting the lungs or abdomen lining.
  • Lung Cancer: Asbestos-related lung cancer is deadly because the asbestos fibers lodge deep into the lungs, causing cellular damage and cancer.
  • Ovarian Cancer: Ovarian cancer is the second most dangerous of all cancers caused by asbestos. The exposure causes damage to the mesothelium, a unique internal lining that covers many of the internal organs in our body, including the ovaries. This abnormal growth eventually forms tumors that can rupture and spread cancerous cells into other parts of your body. Because ovarian cancer does not cause any symptoms until it is already in an advanced stage, it is hard for doctors to diagnose early.

Noncancerous Conditions Caused By Asbestos

Some of the most common noncarcinogenic health effects from exposure to asbestos fibers are:

  • Asbestosis is a severe lung disease that occurs when inhaled asbestos fibers stay in the lungs. It can cause scarring of the lungs, making it hard to breathe.
  • Pleural plaques  are asbestos-related scarring found on the outer walls of the lungs, the diaphragm, or tissue around the lungs. Pleural plaques are also known as pleural thickening. When exposed, asbestos fibers will irritate the cells in your lung and cause inflammation and scarring, which can thicken over time.
  • Pleural Effusion: When fluid builds up between the lung and chest wall, pleural effusion. A large pleural effusion may cause breathing difficulties. A fluid sample removed from the pleural space (pleural fluid) may be tested to determine if asbestos causes the effusion.
  • Diffuse Pleural Thickening is the thickening of the lung lining that occurs when asbestos fibers cause irritation and inflammation. Since this is a nonmalignant condition, surgery might be the best option.
  • Pleurisy is an inflammation of the lining of the lung cavity known as the pleura. Symptoms include sharp, stabbing pain in the chest accompanied by difficulty breathing.
  • Atelectasis is when your airways become filled with mucus, collapsing the walls and airways, preventing them from moving enough air into the lungs. It commonly occurs because of infection or a buildup of mucus that blocks airflow.

How to Treat Asbestos Exposure

If you have experienced a diagnosis of mesothelioma from asbestos exposure, you may be eligible for compensation. Contact our office today to learn about the mesothelioma claim process and get started.

There is no definitive treatment for its exposure. However, medicine can treat symptoms. One of the most important things you can do is contact a medical professional if you are experiencing symptoms and know you had exposure to asbestos in the past.

How to Protect Yourself From Exposure

There is no way to avoid exposure at a job site altogether. However, you can lower your exposure by following these tips:

  • If you are concerned about exposure, you can speak to your employer about safe practices.
  • Limit your exposure by wearing appropriate safety gear.
  • If exposed, do your best to wash your hands and avoid other workers not wearing personal protection equipment.
  • If you are diagnosed with asbestosis, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends that you be medically evaluated and provided treatment.

Can Asbestos Be Removed from the Body?

Asbestos is a fibrous material that cannot be removed from the body. It takes time for a person's body's cells to break down asbestos fibers into a form that may cause problems. The only way to prevent exposure is to avoid contact with asbestos-containing materials altogether. When asbestos exposure happens, people may not experience symptoms until later. These symptoms can be mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis.


Asbestos exposure is not a rare occurrence, and it can be hazardous. If you have been exposed to asbestos, your health care provider can help you determine how your body has been affected and the best course of action. Your doctor can also perform a thorough physical exam, which will help them determine the extent of your exposure and assess the severity of your symptoms or causes of mesothelioma. If the symptoms are mild enough not to warrant a doctor's attention, you can still investigate your rights and pursue a legal claim. A qualified asbestos attorney can help determine if you have a claim.

If you have experienced a diagnosis of mesothelioma from asbestos exposure, you may be eligible for compensation. Contact our office today to learn about the mesothelioma claim process and get started.

Do You Have A Claim?

If your health has been affected by exposure to asbestos, report it here.
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