You never thought about the risks that were involved in your job, because it always seemed safe. You worked with a crew, had good techniques and always had someone standing by to make sure things ran smoothly.
In fact, it wasn’t an accident that ended up harming you. Instead, it was exposure. You found out recently that you’d been exposed to asbestos many times during your time with your employer. How did you find out? You had developed asbestosis.
What is asbestosis?
Asbestosis is a chronic disease of the lungs. This disease is caused when asbestos fibers are inhaled. Over time, the prolonged exposure to the fibers scars the lungs, leading to a struggle to catch your breath. Shortness of breath is a main symptom of this condition.
What is most difficult about this condition is how slowly it develops. Many people who have asbestosis actually faced asbestos exposure decades ago. It can take many years for the fibers to scar the lungs to the point of illness.
Where do asbestos fibers come from?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral. It’s highly resistant to corrosion and heat, so it used to be used in floor tiles, cement, insulation and other products.
In the 1970s, asbestos and related products began to be regulated by the government. Now, you have to be extremely cautious when handling it, and there are many regulations in place. It’s unlikely that you’d get asbestosis from today’s workplaces if you’re following the right safety procedures, but if an employer doesn’t put them into place or doesn’t require safe handling of asbestos, then you could fall ill later in life.
What are the symptoms of asbestosis?
Common symptoms include:
- Tightness in the chest
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Dry cough
- Shortness of breath
- Clubbing of the fingers and toes
How long does it take to know if you could have asbestosis?
It can take between 10 and 40 years after exposure to begin developing the symptoms of asbestosis, which makes it difficult for people to understand why they’ve developed this disease. However, if you’re able to link your exposure to the workplace, such as by going to see a medical provider at the time of exposure to report it, then you will have a better opportunity to seek workers’ compensation or other types of relief if you end up developing this condition. Any time you’re hurt on the job, it’s important to do what you can to seek the compensation that you deserve.