If you’re exposed to asbestos for a prolonged period of time, you could be at a high risk of developing asbestosis in the lungs. Asbestosis in the lungs is a chronic lung disease that can cause a wide range of serious symptoms. This inflammatory condition can ultimately result in permanent lung damage. Although asbestosis generally has a better prognosis than mesothelioma, a type of lung cancer that can result from asbestos exposure, it still causes a significant number of fatalities.
Over a recent nine-year period, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that asbestosis in the lungs caused 13,024 deaths. Some individuals, on the other hand, have a generally good prognosis after they are diagnosed with asbestosis, and may live for several decades with the disease. However, even when asbestosis is not deadly, it still greatly affects a victim’s quality of life. Individuals with asbestosis often have the following symptoms:
- Frequent coughing
- Shoulder and/or chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Clubbed/swollen fingertips, which is usually most common in more advanced cases
Oftentimes, when individuals are diagnosed with a lung disorder or condition, they are surprised to hear it is due to asbestos exposure. Many people don’t even realize that they have been exposed to asbestos, when in fact, they may have been exposed to it for many years.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a group of naturally-occurring fibers that are widely used in the production of many different products and materials, such as paper, plastic, cloth, cement, and plastic.
There are also different types of asbestos that are used for various purposes, including five types of amphibole asbestos and one type of serpentine asbestos. The use of asbestos is still legal in the United States and and is generally safe for consumer use; however, when the asbestos is disturbed and released into the air it becomes dangerous.
Risks of Asbestos
Inhaling the dust from asbestos is hazardous, and it is particularly problematic if someone is exposed to asbestos in the air on a regular basis. For example, a construction worker may be consistently working with materials that cause asbestos to be released in the air. Constant exposure and inhalation of asbestos can eventually lead to serious health problems, including asbestosis in the lungs. Keep in mind that in an environment that has few disturbances the asbestos fibers can take from 48 to 72 hours to settle and in the industry of construction it is unlikely that any area remains “undisturbed” for any period of time. Due to the nature that the dust is so light and can remain airborne it is no wonder that asbestos related diseases are so prevalent.
Asbestos Related Diseases
It is common for people to associate that lung cancer could be directly related to asbestos exposure, but that isn’t the only disease that you could suffer from if you had prolonged exposure to asbestos. Take for example a few of the following:
With asbestosis itself ranging from mild to severe and the asbestos related diseases having the ability to result in death, it is vital to be aware of possible exposure to asbestos.
In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that currently, there are approximately 125 million individuals worldwide being exposed to asbestos in the workplace. Asbestos in the lungs, which can cause cancer and mesothelioma, has also resulted in 107,000 deaths. Most of the time, asbestos exposure can take many years to manifest. It may be 20 to 30 years after regular asbestos exposure before someone starts exhibiting signs of asbestosis and receives a diagnosis.
Asbestos Exposure Can Happen in Many Industries
Far too often people think that “asbestos can’t happen to me, I’m not in construction” but unfortunately that is not the only industry that has a risk when it comes to asbestos exposure. In addition to construction, workers in the following industries may also be more at risk of developing asbestosis in the lungs due to asbestos exposure:
- Electricity generation
- Chemical Industry
Each industry carries unique challenges that can result in being exposed to asbestos. Take for example the following industries and how an individual could be exposed to asbestos:
- Shipyard Workers – Whether you served in the Navy or you worked near the port, there is a high probability that you could have been exposed to asbestos. During the period from the 1930s to the 1970s those who served in the Military and worked on military vehicles or aircraft were at risk as many of the materials used during that period contained asbestos.
- Firefighters – In an emergency situation building materials could be on fire and disseminating asbestos fibers into the air exposing the firefighter to risk.
- Chemical Plant Personnel – Chemical engineers and workers once wore protective gear that contained asbestos. In today’s environment the more likely exposure is from working on older equipment where asbestos is in the building materials.
Regardless of the industry you are involved in, exposure to asbestos can be dangerous and lead to asbestosis, cancer or other deadly diseases. Take time to understand your workplace conditions to help ensure your safety.
How to Limit Asbestos Exposure
The WHO has also implemented recommendations for reducing asbestos exposure, particularly in the workplace, and thus reducing the number of asbestosis diagnoses and asbestos-related deaths. It is suggested that a safer alternative be used in place of asbestos.
When asbestos is being used in a particular environment, it is important to take the steps necessary to protect workers from asbestos exposure. Employers are responsible for providing their workers with a safe work environment. In cases where asbestosis is suspected, early diagnosis and prompt, aggressive treatment is crucial.
There is no safe level of asbestos exposure, as exposure for only a few days could lead to cancer, there is no safe level of exposure. If you are an employer, you have an obligation to create a safe work environment. According to OSHA guidelines an employer is required to:
- Perform air monitoring and keep records of the results. Records must be kept on exposure for at least 30 years.
- Offer respiratory protection if limits are exceeded which is measured by fibers per cubic centimeter
- Provide asbestos awareness training
- Separate decontamination and lunch areas
- Demarcation and hazard communication of at risk areas
Most people are unaware of their exposure to asbestos, especially when it’s happening every day in the workplace. After all, you expect that your employer is keeping you as safe as possible, and many asbestos victims don’t expect to develop serious lung conditions many years down the road. Alas, it has continued to happen, and more individuals with asbestosis diagnoses are seeking the justice they deserve.
How USClaims Can Help During Your Asbestosis Lawsuit
If you or a loved one was diagnosed with asbestosis in the lungs, you may already be working with an attorney on an asbestos exposure lawsuit. Sometimes, they can be a little more complex than a typical personal injury lawsuit, especially when you are looking at something that took many years to develop.
However, despite the complexity of some of these cases, attorneys have still successfully obtained favorable settlements for their clients. But because there are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to pursuing monetary compensation in an asbestos exposure lawsuit , it is important to keep in mind that these types of cases may take a long time to finalize.
Waiting for your case to settle before receiving a payout isn’t your only option, however. At USClaims, we help plaintiffs with qualifying cases receive money sooner through a process known as pre-settlement funding. Contact USClaims today to learn more about how pre-settlement funding works and to see if your case is eligible.
Give your clients the confidence to let you do the work to reach the best possible settlement for their asbestos related case. Far too often clients want you to settle early due to challenges with their finances.
At USClaims we offer pre-settlement funding to help cover those challenging bills that they need to pay until you settle their case. Contact us today to see how we can help.