Asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral that is as hazardous as it is useful. Asbestos can cause lung cancer and other related occupational diseases. It has been linked to asbestosis, mesothelioma and cancer of the larynx.
Asbestos fibers are thin. When a worker manipulates them, the fibers become airborne. When someone inhales those fibers into the lungs, they settle onto lung tissue. People who inhale high concentrations of asbestos may experience fibers building up in the lungs, creating inflammation.
Over time, the lungs respond to asbestos fibers by creating scarring around the invading particles. These nodules can lead to difficulty breathing, and may also cause fluid to build up in the lungs. Furthermore, asbestos lung cancer is one of the most concerning risks for people who are exposed to asbestos.
The History of Asbestos
For possibly thousands of years, workers have used asbestos. This is due to its useful properties as a strong, fire-resistant and abundant material. In the 19th century, asbestos was commercialized and by the early 20th century, it was being mined and manufactured in sites across the world.
Sadly, it would take years before anyone knew how dangerous asbestos really was. By the early 1900’s, the hazardous effects were apparent, and workers who had been exposed to asbestos were dying of lung-related illnesses and cancer. Despite these documented illnesses, asbestos continued to reach peak demand in the 1970’s. By that time, nearly five million tons were produced each year.
By the 1980’s, environmental, safety and health agencies would begin to link asbestos to lung cancer and other diseases. As a result, agencies around the world began to change asbestos regulations and how much exposure was dangerous. By 2003, 17 countries had banned asbestos and others followed. The United States is one of few developed nations that has not at least partially banned asbestos.
Asbestos Linked to Lung Cancer
Exposure to asbestos fibers can cause several types of cancer. The two types of asbestos most commonly linked to asbestos lung cancer include:
- Amphibole – Contains straight, needle-like fibers that are brown or blue.
- Chrysotile – Known as “white asbestos”, this is the most common type of asbestos fiber in use in manufacturing and construction, and as an ingredient in various materials.
Blue, brown and white asbestos are the most likely to result in asbestos lung cancer and other occupational diseases. Since the Industrial Revolution, companies have used asbestos as an effective insulator for homes, businesses and schools.
The fibers have also been used extensively in the construction industry and are present in concrete, plaster, floor tiles, shingles, ceiling materials, textiles and other products.
Who is At Risk for Asbestos Lung Cancer?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are approximately 125 million people at risk for asbestos exposure in workplaces across the world. In 2004, asbestos lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis were responsible for 107,000 deaths worldwide, and more than 1.5 million disabilities.
People who are most at risk are those who have worked with the product directly or who have breathed in particles in the air. This includes workers in the following occupations:
- Textile Production
- Asbestos Removal Companies
- Automobile Manufacturers
Many companies that manufacture products containing asbestos are aware of the hazards but fail to warn employees of the risks. Without proper warnings, people who work around products containing asbestos have unknowingly exposed themselves to a potentially deadly toxin.
Concerned about Asbestos Lung Cancer?
If you are concerned about asbestos lung cancer, you should talk to your doctor right away. Tell him or her about your exposure to asbestos, the concentration and the duration of exposure. Get laboratory testing to see if you have lung cancer or another similar condition. Asbestos-related cancers, asbestosis and mesothelioma are all certainly difficult diseases to treat.
If you or someone you love has already been diagnosed with asbestos lung cancer, contact AkinMears, L.L.P. to discuss your legal rights. Many people who have been injured by asbestos exposure are taking legal action against negligent employers or manufacturers. Find out if you qualify for legal action by scheduling a free consultation. Call us toll free at 888-357-8191.