Asbestosis is an obstructive pulmonary disease that medical scientists have definitively linked to occupational asbestos exposure. Asbestosis is a chronic disease that grows progressively worse over the years. While there are palliative treatments that will help treat asbestosis symptoms, there is no cure.
Applications of Asbestos
Until the late 1970s when the federal government began regulating exposure, the fibrous mineral asbestos was used in a variety of commercial and industrial applications throughout the United States. Asbestos is flameproof, lightweight, and resistant to heat, electrical impulses, and most forms of chemical corrosion; properties that might seem to make it the ideal insulating material. Public health scientists, however, have linked asbestos conclusively to the development of a variety of debilitating, often fatal, diseases including asbestosis, the terminal cancer mesothelioma, and lung cancer.
Side Effects Related to Asbestos Exposure
When an asbestos-containing material is disturbed, it releases clouds of dust into the air that contain microscopic filaments of asbestos. These needle-sharp particles lodge into workers’ lungs, causing inflammatory processes that ultimately lead to scarring and lethal changes in the pulmonary parenchyma. Asbestosis and other asbestos-related diseases are characterized by lengthy latency periods. Thirty years or more can elapse between an individual’s initial exposure to asbestos and the development of asbestosis symptoms such as shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chronic cough, chest pain, fever and night sweats.
Workers who encountered asbestos directly at a job site aren’t the only people who are at risk for developing asbestosis. Workers brought home asbestos fibers in their hair and on their skin and clothing, which their loved ones would inhale. Over time, these loved ones and family members could go on to develop asbestosis as well through what is referred to as secondary or indirect exposure.
Those who have been diagnosed with asbestosis through workplace or secondary exposure, are encouraged to speak with an experienced asbestos attorney as a means of exploring their legal options for compensation and treatment.