How to Deal With Asbestos Exposure?

Asbestos is a group of six naturally occurring minerals made of flexible fibers, resistant to chemicals, corrosion, electricity, water, and heat. The most commonly used asbestos fibers are;

  • Crocidolite 
  • Amosite 
  • Chrysolite

The various qualities of asbestos led to its extensive use in construction and other industries widely until the late 90s. Its use for insulation, roofing and spraying on walls continued until the adverse effects came to light.

Several countries like Australia and the UK banned the use of asbestos in the construction industry after its health impacts were known. However, asbestos is still being used in several industries in the US, albeit in regulated amounts.

Asbestos exposure is a serious health hazard and can lead to terminal ailments like cancer and other lung diseases. The major risk factor of asbestos exposure is work. Some professionals like firefighters are at a much higher risk of getting exposed than others. Several laws are in place against prolonged and continued asbestos exposure at work. Many law firms across the US represent families affected by asbestos-related diseases. One such law firm is Simmons Hanly Conroy, which has offices in New York, California, Illinois, and Missouri.

In the US, asbestos is found across the country, and it is still used in a surprising number of products. If you suspect that you have been exposed to asbestos and find yourself worrying about your next step, then this article might help you.

Dangers of Asbestos Exposure

A considerable amount of asbestos exposure over a short period or inhalation of small amounts of asbestos over a prolonged time can result in serious asbestos-related diseases. When inhaled, asbestos fibers lodge into the organ linings and tissues. These fibers can stay latent for decades before showing any disease symptoms. That is why asbestos-related diseases are said to have a long latency period. However, some asbestos-related conditions like plural plaques might never show any symptoms. 

Some conditions associated with asbestos exposure are;

  • Pleural disease
  • Asbestosis
  • Mesothelioma

Symptoms of Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos exposure can cause symptoms similar to that of flu. If you suspect exposure, monitor your symptoms carefully because an early diagnosis can be life-saving. Common symptoms related to asbestos exposure are;

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Consistent cough
  • Chest pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Loss of weight
  • Shortness of breath

What to Do If You Suspect Exposure

Consult Your General Practitioner

Since asbestos fibers in the air are invisible, you can’t be sure if you have been exposed or not. Therefore, it is better to get checked. Consult with your GP, who will most probably refer you for a chest scan.

However, if you have started showing symptoms, go to an asbestos-related disease specialist right away. Consult a thoracic oncologist if you can’t get an immediate appointment with an asbestos-related disease specialist. They are also qualified to identify chest-related issues and are your best option after asbestos-related conditions specialists. 

Get a diagnosis

After some initial tests, your doctor will be able to diagnose whether your symptoms are due to asbestos exposure or are a common illness. A chest X-ray or CT scan showing scarring on the lung tissue confirms the diagnosis. Further breathing tests are conducted to deduce how well your lungs are working.

Get an Incident Report

If you suspect that you were exposed to asbestos at your workplace, it is wise to get an incident report prepared by your employer. Keep a copy of this report somewhere safe for legal proceedings because your employer is bound by law to cover all of your expenses related to asbestos exposure. Moreover, report your exposure to Worksafe and National Asbestos Exposure Register.   

Look for Treatment Options

No medical treatment can reverse the damage already incurred by your lungs. However, available treatment options prolong your life span. In addition, they slow down disease progression and control symptoms.

Common treatment options include medications like bronchodilators, which help patients breathe easily by relaxing airway muscles. Oxygen therapy is also a recommended option. Most doctors advise you to quit smoking and other lung-damaging activities like drinking to avoid further damage to the lungs.

For mesothelioma or lung cancer, doctors devise a personalized treatment plan depending on the stage of the disease. For example, radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery might be suggested.

Seek Legal Help

Asbestos exposure is a leading cause of work-related deaths worldwide. If you develop any asbestos-related ailment because of exposure at your workplace, you are eligible for compensation. Compensation can be sought from multiple parties, such as manufacturers selling products containing asbestos or your organization using asbestos for construction and other industrial projects.

If you used protective equipment but were still exposed, you can sue the equipment manufacturers. Numerous law firms across the US have specific teams of lawyers specialized in dealing with asbestos exposure at workplace lawsuits.

After getting diagnosed with an asbestos-related condition, consult your attorney immediately. There are strict deadlines for filing lawsuits, which is why the best time to get in touch with your attorney is right after diagnosis.

Typically, these lawsuits can get you compensation within 90 days. The average asbestos claims payout is around one million dollars. Seeking legal help is critical because you can get the maximum settlement in the minimum amount of time with the help of mesothelioma lawyers. The different types of legal compensations lawyers can help with are;

  • Lawsuits resulting in settlements
  • Veteran affairs claims
  • Trust fund claims
  • Workers compensation

However, if you do not have a diagnosis, then the legal system can’t help you because there is no way to prove if the lung dysfunction is caused by workplace asbestos exposure.

How to Prevent Exposure?

Even minor renovations in old buildings can disturb asbestos. Regular checks are crucial to ensure safety if you reside in an old building. If you work a high-risk job like carpentry, shipyard worker, or power plant worker, make sure that you ask your site manager and homeowners whether they have had an asbestos check before starting work. 

If you suspect asbestos presence at your workplace or in your home, consult accredited teams trained in identifying and controlling asbestos leakage. They are certified to perform asbestos sampling and can help you manage such issues efficiently. 

Moreover, if your employer is not ensuring safe working conditions and is not protecting you from potential asbestos exposure, you can complain anonymously to Occupational Safety and Health Administration. This administration can take legal action, impose civil fines or shut down operations where asbestos-related regulations are violated.

Wrapping Up

Asbestos is a dangerous mineral. Its exposure can cause various ailments. Getting diagnosed earlier and following a proper treatment plan can prolong your life and enhance your quality of life.

Seeking medical and legal help is equally necessary after exposure. As long as the use of asbestos is not entirely banned, there will always be a risk of exposure. So, it is wise to follow our tips on avoiding asbestos exposure. However, if you do come in contact, it is better to be aware of your rights and the steps to follow after exposure. We hope that this article will guide you to deal with asbestos exposure in the best way possible.