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How Dangerous is Asbestos?

It’s likely you’ve heard about the dangers of asbestos. When asbestos fibers get trapped in a person’s body, they’re at risk of developing a condition like mesothelioma. You may be wondering, however, just how dangerous asbestos is. There are a number of factors that play into making a hazard determination.

If you’ve been exposed to asbestos and have developed mesothelioma or another related medical condition, you may be eligible for compensation. When negligent employers or companies expose unsuspecting people to the mineral, they can be held accountable. While filing a legal claim takes time, it’s often the best way to ensure you receive justice for what you’ve wrongfully had to endure.

In order to file a successful claim, your attorney will help you build a strong case with evidence that proves you should not have been exposed to asbestos. A significant portion of your claim will discuss the dangers of asbestos and how it causes harm to the human body. Let’s take a look at some information you should know.

What Is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral. It’s composed of soft, flexible fibers that are resistant to heat, electricity, and corrosion. Because of that, it makes the mineral useful in a number of industries. In addition to its resistant properties, it’s also an effective insulator that can be used in cloth, paper, cement, plastic, and other materials to add strength.

Asbestos played a vital role in the American commercial product manufacturing industry throughout the 20th century. This means that people working in construction, manufacturing, and other blue-collar industries were most at risk of exposure. It was used in thousands of products prior to the implantation of regulations in the 1970s.

While asbestos has been banned in more than 60 countries, it is still legal to use in the United States—assuming employers abide by government regulations. Today, it’s estimated that 1.3 million U.S. workers in construction and general industry are at risk of asbestos exposure.

Types of Asbestos

According to the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA), asbestos is the commercial and legal term that’s used to label multiple types of minerals. While some types of asbestos are more dangerous than others, all have the potential to cause harm. The six types of asbestos regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) include the following:

  • Chrysotile. Known as white asbestos, this is the most commonly used type. It’s found in roofs, ceilings, walls, and floors of both homes and businesses. Some manufacturers also use this in automobile brake lining, gaskets and boiler seals, and insulation.
  • Amosite. This is referred to as brown asbestos and is most frequently used in cement sheets and pipe insulation. It’s also found in insulating boards, ceiling tiles, and thermal insulation products.
  • Crocidolite. Called blue asbestos, this was commonly used to insulate steam engines. Today it’s found in some spray-on coating, pipe insulation, plastics, and cement products.
  • Anthophyllite. Being gray, white, or green in color, this type of asbestos was used in limited quantities for construction materials and insulation products. It can occur as a contaminant in vermiculite or talc.
  • Tremolite and Actinolite. The last two types of asbestos are chemically similar. They are not used commercially, but they are found as contaminates. They may appear as brown, white, green, gray, or transparent.

The U.S. Bureau of Mines and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has recognized that there are a number of other asbestos-like minerals that have not been regulated. When you file a claim with an attorney, they’ll work to determine what type of asbestos you were exposed to.

Asbestos Exposure Risks

While asbestos exposure always has the potential to be dangerous, a person is more likely to develop a related medical condition when they’re exposed to an intense concentration of it or they are exposed on a regular basis for a long period of time.

Once asbestos fibers are airborne, they are easily inhaled or swallowed. Asbestos accumulates in the body with every exposure. Currently, there’s no known way to reverse any damage it causes. It most commonly causes a cancer called mesothelioma in the lungs, abdomen, or heart.

According to the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, approximately 27 million workers were exposed to asbestos between 1940 and 1979. Some of the most high-risk occupations include construction, electricity generation, firefighting, military service, mining, shipbuilding, and heavy industry.

While not as common, living in the vicinity of an asbestos-contaminated processing facility can put someone at risk of environmental exposure. Family members of those directly exposed to the material can also develop medical conditions from secondhand exposure.

Health Problems Related to Asbestos Exposure

Conditions related to asbestos exposure have a long latency period. This means that they take decades to develop. On average, most patients are well into their 60s and 70s before getting diagnosed with a health condition related to asbestos.

According to the American Cancer Society, mesothelioma and lung cancer are most commonly associated with long-term asbestos exposure. Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that typically affects the linings of organs in the chest and abdomen. It can take anywhere from ten to 50 years to develop, with symptoms ranging from mild to debilitating. Most cases of lung cancer related to asbestos occur at least 15 years after the initial exposure. Those exposed to the material who also smoke are at a greater risk of developing lung cancer.

In addition to cancer, asbestos exposure can also cause a chronic lung disease called asbestosis. This develops when asbestos fibers become lodged in the lungs’ alveoli, resulting in scarred tissue. Symptoms include shortness of breath, chest tightness, clubbing of fingers, and a dry, persistent cough.

If you’ve been exposed to asbestos and you’re experiencing unexplained side effects, it’s important to seek medical care. A doctor can conduct an evaluation and determine what you’re dealing with.

Legal Representation from Frost Law Firm, PC

If you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma after having been exposed to asbestos, we recommend getting in touch with a Hawaii mesothelioma lawyer from Frost Law Firm, PC. We represent clients who have been wrongfully injured as a result of asbestos exposure, and we’ll do the same for you. We understand how challenging it can be to manage a legal claim while trying to focus on your health, which is why we’ll handle as much of your claim as we can while keeping you updated every step of the way. To learn more about your rights and options or to set up a free case evaluation, contact us today.

Our Experience Is Personal

Scott L. Frost’s Family Experience with Lung Cancer

For most of his life, Scott L. Frost’s father, who was in the construction industry, worked with and sold products containing asbestos without knowing the materials were dangerous. He was diagnosed with lung cancer 40 years after starting his career, leading Scott’s family to fight like they had never fought before.

Pictured here with his wife of over 50 years, Scott’s father eventually succumbed to the cancer. Since then, Scott has made it his mission to do everything in his power to make sure corporations understand how dangerous asbestos is and prevent future generations from suffering as his family did, as well as support research that may lead to finding a cure.

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