Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous material composed of a group of minerals. Due to its resistance to heat and flame, and its durability, asbestos has been mined and widely used in various occupations and industries for many years — most commonly in the automotive and construction sectors.
Asbestos exposure occurs when products containing asbestos are disturbed, releasing the fibers into the air. When the fibers are inhaled, they can become trapped in the lungs and remain there for decades, sometimes leading to serious health problems. These include asbestosis (inflammation of the lungs that causes coughing, shortness of breath, and scarring), mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other lung conditions. In addition, some medical researchers suspect that asbestos exposure might be associated with other types of cancers, though this has yet to be proven.
Asbestos exposure may occur in many different places, including:
- The workplace
- Community meeting places
Because the material has been used in many products since the 1800s, it is prevalent in things like car parts, building materials, garden products, and even crayons. While growing health concerns have led to its use being dramatically decreased, exposure is still possible today.
Most cases of asbestos poisoning occur in workers, but families of asbestos workers may also be exposed when workers bring the fibers home on their clothing, skin, and hair. Because asbestos can become airborne, those living close to asbestos mines can develop mesothelioma, as well. Additionally, those working in certain occupations and industries, such as construction, mining, heating/cooling equipment repair, shipbuilding, roofing, and demolition, are typically at a much higher risk of being exposed.
If you or a loved one has developed an illness that you believe to be the result of asbestos exposure, it’s important to take action as soon as possible. Speak with a Philadelphia personal injury lawyer to learn more about your legal options.