There are many different types of personal injuries, some of which you may not know about. For instance, did you know that asbestos exposure has injured an entire generation of American workers? In fact, most experts believe the mortality rate from asbestos exposure will continue to rise, as the risk of exposure remains high even today.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), asbestos is a group of naturally occurring minerals found throughout the world. In the past, asbestos was considered the “go to” product of the construction world, due to its ability to absorb sound and retain its strength in the face of chemical, electrical or fire damage.
Years later, we now understand that asbestos is an extremely dangerous material and its use is strictly prohibited. Asbestos and mesothelioma lawsuits are among the most common types of personal injury cases and they continue to increase as more and more people discover they have developed cancer.
Why is Asbestos Considered Dangerous?
The fibers of asbestos are actually very small, jagged and sharp. Due to their size, they are easily inhaled or ingested. While the asbestos fibers that become trapped in the mucous membranes of your nose and throat can be removed, other fibers may find their way deep into the lungs or the digestive tract, if swallowed. This poses a serious problem, as your immune system cannot get rid of the fibers. They become trapped in your body and can cause serious health problems.
What Does Asbestos do to Your Body?
Depending on where the tiny asbestos fibers have lodged themselves within your body, the damage can be devastating. The following list explains the damage done by asbestos in specific areas of your body.
The most common way that asbestos enters your body is by inhalation. Once in your lungs, the fibers can cause cancerous and non-cancerous diseases that damage the lungs. Symptoms usually begin with shortness of breath after activity, then progress to shortness of breath at rest. After time goes by, your lungs become so damaged that you can no longer perform everyday tasks that once seemed simple.
Mesothelioma is an extremely rare form of cancer that is thought to be caused by asbestos exposure. Asbestos fibers attack the thin, protective layer around your lungs, abdominal organs and heart. There are three types of mesothelioma, which are categorized by the part of the body affected. The most common type, pleural mesothelioma, attacks the lining of your lungs. It is an extremely aggressive type of cancer that is extremely painful.
When asbestos exposure leads to lung damage, it makes your heart work harder in an attempt to make up for a lack of oxygen. This can eventually lead to heart failure. Pericardial mesothelioma is a cancer that forms in the protective membrane around your heart. Tumors begin to grow and fluid builds up around the heart muscle, causing pain, irregular heartbeat and heart palpitations.
Other Types of Cancer
Asbestos exposure can cause various other cancers throughout your body. These cancers include:
- Lung cancer
- Larynx cancer
- Kidney cancer
Where do You Face the Highest Risk for Asbestos Exposure?
The highest levels of asbestos exposure actually occur in asbestos miners, as they ingested the toxic fibers over prolonged periods of time. Additionally, asbestos was commonly used in most private, public and commercial buildings constructed before 1980. If your home was built before then, or you perform custodial work in an older building, asbestos may be present. In fact, the materials were so widely used, it is probably safe to assume any building or home constructed between the 1940’s and 1980’s contains asbestos.
How Can You Avoid Asbestos Exposure?
Avoiding exposure to asbestos generally comes down to avoiding areas that could be contaminated. If you must work around these areas, it is essential to take extra precautions. For example, wearing a respirator with a HEPA filter will prevent the inhalation of deadly asbestos fibers. You should also wear gloves and protective clothing to prevent asbestos fibers from clinging to your clothing. Dispose of any protective clothing immediately after use.
Who Should be Held Liable for Causing Your Mesothelioma?
If you contracted mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure, you can generally expect to face massive amounts of medical bills associated with the treatment of your cancer. Most asbestos exposure victims choose to enlist the help of an experienced San Francisco personal injury lawyer.
Depending on the specific circumstances of your case, you may have a valid personal injury claim and be eligible for compensation. Under the guidance of a successful personal injury attorney, you may be able to obtain compensation on from employers or builders who are responsible for using asbestos or those who had been hired to remove the dangerous material. When the persons responsible for using asbestos materials demonstrate negligence by failing to remove or dispose of it, they can legally be held accountable for your medical expenses and more.