When a person is exposed to asbestos, tiny fibers can enter the lungs and remain there throughout his or her life. Scarring and inflammation develops as asbestos fibers accumulate, which can eventually affect a person’s breathing and long-term health.
Asbestos exposure increases a person’s risk of developing diseases ranging from mild and benign to malignant and deadly. Not everyone who is exposed will develop an asbestos-related disease, but the risk lasts for decades after exposure, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).
Asbestosis is a noncancerous but serious and progressive long-term lung disease. Asbestosis develops from inhaling asbestos fibers that irritate, inflame and scar the lung tissue. This scarring makes breathing difficult, as oxygen and carbon dioxide are obstructed from regularly passing through the lungs. The latency period is typically 10 to 20 years between initial exposure and the onset of asbestosis. Complications can range from asymptomatic to disabling and life-threatening.
Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive type of cancer that starts in the mesothelial cells lining certain parts of the body, particularly the lungs, chest and abdomen. These cells make a lubricating fluid that allows the lungs and other organs to move. Mesothelioma forms a tumor starting with tissue that has been damaged by asbestos fibers. The disease can develop 20 to 40 years of more after asbestos exposure, according to Mayo Clinic. Those with mesothelioma can have difficulty breathing and swallowing, chest pain, and an accumulation of fluid in the chest called pleural effusion. Sadly, a cure is not possible for most people with mesothelioma.
Those exposed to asbestos are at risk for developing malignant tumors that can obstruct the lung’s air passages. Common lung cancer symptoms range from chest pain, coughing and wheezing to coughing up blood, labored breathing and unexpected weight loss. People who smoke cigarettes and have been exposed to asbestos greatly increase their risk of developing lung cancer.
Decades of Asbestos Exposure Continued
Asbestos-related diseases were first noted in 1899, and the first cases of asbestosis and asbestos-related lung cancer were diagnosed in the U.S. in 1935. Although the U.S. government placed a moratorium on the production of most asbestos products in the 1970s, many continued to be used into the 1980s and even the 1990s in some cases.
For decades, unsuspecting people from across the country were exposed to the deadly risks of asbestos. As committed advocates for asbestos victims, we continue to hold the responsible companies accountable for putting them in danger.
Contact our firm for assistance if your loved one was diagnosed with mesothelioma or an asbestos-related condition. We can answer your legal questions and help prepare you for the road ahead.