Asbestos is a general term used to describe several minerals mined from the earth that are fibrous in character and resistant to high temperature. These naturally occurring silicate minerals can be separated into fibers which are very useful. The fibers are strong, durable, and resistant to heat and fire. They are also long, thin and flexible, so that some forms can even be woven into cloth. But unfortunately asbestos can cause serious disease if these fibers are inhaled. Thus the fibers must generally be respirable (breathable) to cause harm. And asbestos does not cause disease until many years after it has entered the body. Generally the belief is that there is a latency period of at least 15 or 20 years before disease is detectable. Sometimes it may be much longer.
The following diseases are commonly associated with exposure to asbestos:
- Pleural Plaques (Disease of the lining of the lung sometimes referred to as pleural thickening. Though not cancerous and not life threatening, extensive pleural thickening may impair lung function).
- Asbestosis or Interstitial Fibrosis (The word “fibrosis” refers to the lung scarring that takes place as this disease progresses. It is the scarring of the lining of the alveoli, or air sacs, that cause the difficulty of oxygen transport from your lungs to the bloodstream).
- Lung Cancer (The risk of bronchogenic carcinoma is increased significantly by asbestos exposure, but the risk is much greater in combination with smoking).
- Malignant Mesothelioma (Mesothelioma is a cancer of the lining of the lungs or the lining of the abdomen. It is generally accepted that asbestos is the only cause of mesothelioma in the United States. This insidious disease has generally been considered as fatal within a short period of time as there is no cure. However, today there are various treatment options that will extend the life of those suffering with the disease).
The diagnosis of asbestosis is usually made by a lung specialist (pulmonologist) based on a chest x-ray reading, along with a history of exposure to asbestos fibers. Breathing tests are also used to determine pulmonary impairment. The most common symptom related to asbestos lung disease is shortness of breath. Persistent cough and sputum production are commonly reported. Chest tightness or chest pain may also occur. Lung cancer and mesothelioma are often detected on chest x-rays or cat scans after similar symptoms are experienced.
For more information regarding asbestos and asbestos diseases from the United States Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, please click on the following link: http://www.cdc.gov/health/asbestos.htm
YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS
If you have been diagnosed with one of these diseases, please contact R. Bryan Nace for a free initial consultation regarding your legal rights. You may be entitled to compensation for your injury from one of the manufacturers or suppliers of the asbestos products to which you were exposed.