Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos exposure is a common complaint among those who worked in places such as shipyards, chemical plants or mining facilities in the United States anywhere between the 1920s and early 1970s when asbestos was finally classified as being harmful to humans. Military personnel who served on navy ships or lived in army barracks for long periods of time may also have been exposed, and there is a risk that anyone living in a home built prior to 1970 or living with someone who worked with asbestos may also have been exposed. The risk in these exposures lies in the fact that friable (easily broken or crushed) asbestos releases long, thin fibers into the air which are easily inhaled. Once inhaled, they become stuck in the lungs and cannot be removed, potentially leading to the development of a form of cancer known as mesothelioma.

What is Asbestos?

When asbestos mines first opened in the United States and Canada, the material being mined was regarded as something of a miracle. Not only can asbestos insulate incredibly well, but it can be exposed to significant amounts of heat and flame and not catch fire itself. As a result of these chemical properties, this mineral was quickly snapped up for use by the military as well as by chemical plants across the nation. In shipyards, asbestos was used to prevent the risk of fire on-site but also stuffed into ships in order to hold in heat and lower the risk of fire spreading if a problem occurred in the engine room or if the ship was torpedoed. Asbestos was also used in army barracks, government buildings and homes across the nation as an insulator.


Asbestos Inhalation

The real difficulty with asbestos inhalation comes in the fact that those breathing the fibers are often unaware. Even when they become lodged in the lining of the lungs, heart or abdomen the fibers may cause no symptoms and may lie there, dormant, for a period of years or decades. In a process not yet fully understood, these fibers can then cause the cells around them to multiply abnormally, leading to the growth of tumors.

Typically, asbestos inhalation happens over a long period of time and those affected by mesothelioma are those who breathe in asbestos fibers for months or even years. Studies have shown, however, that it is not simply front-line workers who are at risk for asbestos inhalation and that anyone close to them is also at risk from fibers left on clothes or even on the skin. As a result of the ease with which asbestos exposure can occur, discovery of friable asbestos in most states now requires that the area be sectioned off and all asbestos safely removed.

While a single exposure to asbestos may not result in the development of mesothelioma, the risks are very real over the long term. If you or someone you know has been affected by an asbestos exposure, contact us today for more information about mesothelioma and its treatment options.

© 2011 | Last Modification May 02, 2014 | | Disclaimer
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