Asbestos has been used in manufacturing and building industries because of its strength, ability to provide insulation and absorb sound and to fireproof structures. It may be in items like floor tiles, adhesives, electrical wire casings, roof shingles and pipes and in some household products.
In the late 1970s, the United States banned asbestos in places where it could be released into the air and required regular inspections to make sure asbestos materials were intact.
However, people who work with asbestos in certain occupations like construction and building trades, shipbuilding, mining and chemical manufacturing may still be at risk for exposure to asbestos.
If asbestos fibers are released into the air and are inhaled, they can cause scarring and inflammation in the lungs. Symptoms may not appear until years after a person has been exposed. These may include a cough, weight loss, neck or face swelling, pain in the chest or abdomen and fatigue, among others.
Exposure to asbestos can also increase a person’s risk of developing lung cancer, a cancer of the chest and stomach lining called mesothelioma and fluid in the lungs. Diagnosing asbestos-related disease may include lung function tests, chest x-rays, CT scans and taking samples of lung tissue, called a biopsy.
Exposed people can require oxygen therapy, chemotherapy, radiation and surgery as well. Although treatment for asbestos-related diseases is intended to relieve symptoms and slow its progression, it cannot reverse lung damage caused by asbestos.
If a person has been injured by asbestos, an experienced attorney can provide representation and pursue compensation on the injured person’s behalf.