There are many industries that regularly expose workers to asbestos, and an injury attorney spends much of his time working with people who have handled the harmful material. For decades, this mined silicate was an extremely popular additive in various construction materials. Its excellent heat and corrosion resistance made it a natural choice for fortifying new construction. However, it is now clear that the material can cause fatal health complications like mesothelioma, which usually develops without the victim realizing it until it’s too late.
WHICH INDUSTRIES EXPOSE THEIR WORKERS TO ASBESTOS MOST OFTEN?
Most people who need help from an asbestos attorney have spent years working in older buildings. Construction workers, firefighters, electricians and plumbers are at high risk of being exposed to asbestos. This is because the material is normally used as wall, ceiling or pipe insulation. It is also commonly mixed into siding and flooring.
Other workers who are at risk include miners, shipyard workers and aircraft mechanics. This material is often used as a heat sink in vehicles and aircraft to minimize heat radiance, so it is often installed in braking systems.
When disturbed, asbestos releases microscopic fibers into the air. These remain suspended for long periods of time and are easily inhaled. For this reason, any worker that has to handle the material is likely inhaling its fibers regularly.
WHY IS THIS MATERIAL A MAJOR MEDICAL RISK?
In most cases, workers who approach an asbestos attorney do so years after initial exposure to the material. Once inhaled, the fibers settle into the lungs and are so small that they can actually become tangled with cellular DNA. The fibers also provoke an immune response by the body, which attempts to digest the material with white blood cells. The needle-like shape of the fibers, though, makes them nearly impossible for cells to handle, and most white blood cells will be destroyed in the attempt. The continued presence of the fibers will then force the body into an inflammation response and into creating scar tissue. Eventually, the body may create a fibrous mass of connective tissue in the attempt to destroy the fibers, a condition known as fibrosis. This mass may cause chronic respiratory symptoms and fatigue, but the symptoms are usually written off as minor concerns.
This fibrous mass may eventually become cancerous, a condition known as mesothelioma. Mesothelioma normally takes many years to develop, and a victim may not realize they have a serious health problem until they suffer from extreme chest pain or cough up blood. Unfortunately, by this time there is not much that can be done to treat the cancer. Mesothelioma is considered to be one of the deadliest forms of cancer and will often be fatal within months of diagnosis. There is no other cause of mesothelioma, so once a victim has been diagnosed with the cancer, it is a positive sign that they have been exposed to asbestos.