Asbestos exposure has caused thousands of respiratory and abdominal injuries. Exposure to asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma cancer. Mesothelioma victims and their family members are entitled to compensation for injuries sustained from asbestos exposure.
Even those who don’t work directly with asbestos are at risk of developing mesothelioma, including family members and close associates. Workplace asbestos can be carried on clothing and hair and be easily transmitted. This means even those with indirect exposure are eligible for financial compensation, including funds from asbestos trusts and lawsuit settlements.
Among the more than 75 occupational groups that are known to have asbestos exposure are construction workers, firefighters, industrial workers and shipyard workers. There are dozens of others. The leading way to come into contact with asbestos was from working close to it.
Asbestos was widely used in construction, plumbing, steel manufacturing and mining. Today, most occupational exposure comes from repairs, renovations, removal and maintenance of asbestos-containing products, many which were installed in the 1960s and 1970s.
Veterans and Mesothelioma
More than 30 percent of all mesothelioma cases in the United States are veterans because asbestos was used extensively in all military applications between 1935 and 1975. Even today, experts are continuing to remediate asbestos from military bases.
Veterans who learned construction trades in the military continue to be at risk after service. Trades learned in the military, like plumbing or electrical work, are the same civilian jobs that are at risk for asbestos exposure.
Common Exposure Products
Asbestos exposure has been linked a thousand of products that are found in homes and businesses. In some cases, asbestos can be found in nearly every construction product, from wallboards and insulation to floor tiles and electrical wiring.
Some of the more popular asbestos-containing products include automotive parts like brake pads and valves, cement used in construction and textiles used for fireproof clothing. In many cases, it was impossible to avoid asbestos exposure.
Symptoms of Mesothelioma
Early on, mesothelioma can feel like a common respiratory illness, with a cough, fever and fatigue. In many cases a true diagnosis can take weeks or months, delaying critical medical treatments.
Many mesothelioma patients ignore the early symptoms as common, minor ailments. When they do go the doctor, patients are often misdiagnosed at first. Persistent symptoms – including abdominal bloating, unplanned weight loss and continual chest pains — should never be ignored.
Mesothelioma vs. Lung Cancer
Asbestos exposure can cause two types of cancer: mesothelioma and lung cancer. The two diseases have overlapping symptoms, take decades to develop and are easily misdiagnosed. Asbestos is the primary cause of mesothelioma and increases the risk for lung cancer.
Despite the similar characteristics, mesothelioma and lung cancer impact the lungs in different ways. Mesothelioma damages the lining surrounding the lungs (called the pleura), while lung cancer damages the lung tissue itself. Each type of cancer requires individualized treatment.
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- Lung cancer. Asbestos occupations. Retrieved from http://www.lung.org/assets/documents/publications/solddc-chapters/occupational.pdf
- Department of Environmental Protection. Asbestos. Retrieved from http://www.epa.gov/superfund/health/contaminants/asbestos/pdfs/noa_factsheet.pdf