Perhaps 10 or 30 years ago (or more), you worked in an industry that used a substantial amount of asbestos. At the time, you may not have given much thought to the clouds of dust you worked in on a regular basis. Maybe you’re an immediate family member of someone who worked under these conditions. If so, you may be at risk for an asbestos-related illness.
Even though the use of asbestos has drastically decreased in recent decades, you could still suffer exposure. Most people exposed to asbestos these days encounter it in their work. In addition, if you live or work in an old building, the materials used may have contained asbestos. You don’t have to worry, though, unless damage to any of the building materials containing asbestos (such as tile or insulation) occurred. If so, you may also be at risk for an asbestos-related illness.
What is asbestos?
Now that you know that asbestos exposure could haunt you from decades old exposure or recent exposure, you may want to know just what this highly toxic and dangerous substance actually is. You can find asbestos in rocks and soil in any number of locations across the planet. The bundles of fibers that this group of minerals comprises occur naturally. The two types of asbestos that you more than likely came into contact with include the following:
- Amphibole asbestos: These fibers look like needles due to their straight shape. This type of asbestos comes in five different types:
– Crocidolite or blue asbestos
– Amosite or brown asbestos
Chrysotile asbestos: This is the most common type of asbestos. Called the white asbestos, it has numerous applications in many industries. These fibers look like spirals, so people also refer to them as curly asbestos or serpentine asbestos.
You may wonder why it was so widely used since it causes serious and fatal illnesses and cancers. Many once touted asbestos as a wonder product because it’s resistant to many chemicals and heat, it doesn’t conduct electricity, and it’s strong. These characteristics made it attractive as insulation, a material in vehicle brakes and many other uses.
What health problems can result from asbestos exposure?
Over the last few decades, researchers and medical personnel have discovered that several illnesses trace back to exposure to asbestos. They include the following:
- Mesothelioma: Most discussions about asbestos exposure include the mention of this rare and often deadly disease. Most instances of this disease result from work-related exposure. It could take more than 30 years for symptoms to manifest after exposure.
- Lung cancer: Smoking isn’t the only activity that causes lung cancer. Exposure to asbestos can also lead to this type of cancer. It could take 15 years or more for symptoms to manifest after exposure.
- Asbestosis: Researchers differentiate this illness from cancer, and it could lead to cancer later. The hallmarks of this disease are a chronic cough and a chronic shortness of breath. Breathing becomes labored and a challenge for those suffering from this condition. It could take 10 to 20 years for symptoms to manifest after exposure.
Researchers link many other cancers to asbestos exposure. You need to know that there is no “safe” exposure to asbestos.
What comes after a diagnosis of an asbestos-related disease?
If you can trace the source of your exposure, you could hold the party or parties responsible for your condition legally liable. In addition, you may seek benefits from the Texas workers’ compensation system. In order to understand your legal options, it may be worthwhile to talk to an attorney who routinely deals with victims of asbestos exposure. He or she could provide you with invaluable information and assistance in this challenging time.