Asbestos, first discovered in 1876, is a group of naturally occurring fibrous silicate minerals. This element provides chemical resistance, heat, strength and has fireproofing abilities. For this reason, it was widely utilized in construction materials, household appliances and had a variety of uses.
However, exposure to asbestos causes severe health risks such as respiratory problems, cancer, and other types of illnesses. As a result, its usage is now banned from construction and other industries in almost every major country. But old structures and buildings still have asbestos present in the construction material, posing a grave threat to the occupants.
People can get exposed to asbestos when the fibers are released and dispersed in the air, becoming airborne. This toxic dust can then remain airborne for hours on end, and anyone in the immediate vicinity is in danger of ingesting or inhaling it.
Typically, it takes up to 48-72 hours for this toxic mineral dust to settle fully. But asbestos dust particles are so light that even the slightest disturbance can release them into the air again. Nowadays, people get exposed to asbestos in their workplace. Since asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral, it has numerous industrial, commercial, and domestic uses. And while most of the commercial and industrial usage has stopped, older buildings and products containing asbestos are still out there. Apart from that, many countries are yet to ban asbestos for commercial and industrial purposes.
Most asbestos exposure cases arise from the workplace – what we call “occupational asbestos exposure.” It occurs when workers are exposed to asbestos during manufacturing or other operational procedures involving this mineral. Such workers can unknowingly bring this toxic mineral home, leading to second-hand asbestos exposure. Fortunately, nowadays, individuals who have been exposed to asbestos can hire attorneys to fight for their rights. Reliable firms like Simmons Hanly Conroy work tirelessly to help affected individuals attain their rightful compensation and guide them through the legal system.
Symptoms of Asbestos Exposure
There are usually no symptoms of exposure to asbestos that a person can identify immediately after coming into contact. But when it starts to develop, the signs are typically centered around lung issues. The reason is that this toxic mineral fiber affects the lungs and causes several lung diseases. But it can also adversely affect other organs such as the colon, stomach, or throat.
In many instances, a CT scan or an X-ray is enough to identify signs of pleural plaques. However, it is only detected through routine scans because pleural plaques rarely cause any symptoms. Most importantly, since it develops a decade or more after exposure, it’s almost impossible to look out for any signs in particular. However, some telltale signs include:
- Breathing complications
- Wheezing or dry cough
- Chest tightness or pain
- Respiratory issues
- The buildup of fluid around the lungs
- Pleural plaques
Similarly, the signs of asbestos exposure on other parts of the body include:
- Abdominal swelling and distention
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Pelvic pain
- Bowel obstruction
- Difficulty swallowing
- Weight loss
- Clubbed fingers
Diseases caused by Asbestos Exposure
Asbestos exposure can cause both cancerous and non-cancerous diseases. Some cancers caused by asbestos are:
- Ovarian cancer
- Lung cancer
- Laryngeal cancer
Other diseases caused by asbestos exposure are:
- Benign pleural effusion
- Pleural plaques
- Pleural thickening
Apart from that, asbestos exposure also increases the risk of cancers such as pharyngeal cancer, stomach cancer, and colorectal cancer.
How to prove asbestos exposure
Suppose you are filing a legal claim for mesothelioma or any disease caused by asbestos exposure. In that case, the attorney will need evidence of when and how you were exposed. Apart from that, your attorney will need medical documentation, test results, lab reports, pathology report, etc., to build your case. However, the most critical and challenging step is to provide proof exposure in court. Without any proof, you won’t be able to move your case forward.
To prove your exposure, you will need the help of a qualified and experienced law firm. A law firm specializing in mesothelioma and asbestos cases will help you ascertain your exposure history. They will have access to the proprietary asbestos database containing evidence against employers, liable manufacturers, job sites, etc. The law firm or attorney will use the database to track down the company or people responsible for the exposure. For example, suppose you were exposed to asbestos from your worksite. In that case, your attorney can draw out the details from their database about products used at that time.
Moreover, your attorney will gather affidavits attesting to the asbestos products you used or worked with during your job. Then, they will track down coworkers, suppliers, and other witnesses who can provide testimony and attest in your favor. This step will further aid in confirming the fact that you were indeed exposed to asbestos. Later on, the interviews and depositions of these witnesses will support your case, along with the documents and memos that will prove your claim. These documents will also confirm that your defendants knew about the dangers of asbestos exposure, yet they still risked their employees.
Complications in proving the exposure
Understandably, the latency period of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases makes it challenging to prove the exposure. After all, it is difficult to remember when or how they were exposed years ago. As a result, they may be unable to recall the exact details and working conditions of that time. But a reputable law firm and attorney will be able to help you through their database. They will help you identify when, where, and how you got exposed to toxic mineral fibers. Therefore, it’s only viable to seek professional assistance since they possess experience tackling such matters.
Suffering from mesothelioma or other illnesses caused by asbestos is a traumatic experience. Although it leads to physical issues, these issues also impact one’s mental well-being. For this reason, you deserve total compensation for your troubles and pain, as well as the best treatment available. However, to ensure that you get maximum compensation, you will need to hire the services of a reputable law firm or attorney. Since they’re well-versed in mesothelioma or asbestos exposure claims, they’ll help you navigate the entire process.