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What to Do When Exposed to Asbestos

By October 7, 2021No Comments

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that has been commonly used in residential and commercial settings in the United States since the mid-1800s. While it may have many advantages as a building material, it also has deadly drawbacks. Sadly, these soft, thin fibers can lead to severe conditions after prolonged exposure.

Even though many manufacturers knew about the hazardous effects of using asbestos-containing materials, they prioritized profits over people, leading to millions of Americans suffering from the consequences. If you’re unsure about what to do when exposed to asbestos, especially within the workplace, it’s vital to seek help right away. Read on to learn more about asbestos exposure and how to take action for financial compensation. 

Understanding Asbestos Exposure

Although asbestos has a notoriously deadly reputation, many people only have a vague understanding of why it’s so hazardous. While some may believe you can be exposed by eating certain foods or through skin absorption, this is simply not true. Instead, asbestos exposure occurs when someone inhales or swallows asbestos dust.

Asbestos-related diseases develop due to millions of microscopic mineral fibers accumulating in the body’s lung tissue or membrane lining. While a one-time exposure event may not be a serious risk, it’s essential to avoid further exposure in the future. For example, if you inhaled a substantial amount of asbestos during a home renovation, there isn’t a need to panic. Make sure your doctors are aware of the experience and practice caution for asbestos exposure.

Asbestos Exposure Fast Facts

  • Short term exposure rarely leads to disease
  • Disasters can cause extreme exposure
  • One-time exposure is not a major risk
  • Multiple temporary experiences can add up
  • It takes at least 20 years to develop related diseases
  • Symptoms appear similar to the common cold

High-Risk Industries

Certain industries and job positions have a greater risk for developing mesothelioma due to continuous exposure. U.S veterans have one of the highest risk factors since every branch of the military uses asbestos in insulation, housing, automobiles, and throughout bases. They certainly aren’t alone, considering many other positions ranging from maintenance to construction often pose dangerous asbestos exposure threats. Additional high-risk industries include:

  • Construction 
  • Firefighting
  • Factories
  • Mining
  • Shipping
  • Manufacturing
  • Home remodeling
  • Demolition 
  • Maintenance

Employees in these industries usually work with raw or older materials that carry the risk for continuous asbestos exposure. Sadly, the risk for second-hand exposure is also high due to family members washing clothes with asbestos fibers.

Mesothelioma is the most common health problem associated with asbestos exposure, but other cancers and noncancerous conditions can arise, including:

  • Lung Cancer
  • Laryngeal Cancer
  • Ovarian Cancer
  • Pleurisy: Severe inflammation within the pleural lining of the lungs.
  • Pleural Effusion: Increased difficulty breathing due to fluid buildup around the lungs.
  • Pleural Plaques: Fibrous thickening of the lung lining occurs.
  • Diffuse Pleural Thickening: Difficulty breathing and chest pain caused by extensive scarring of the lung’s lining.
  • Atelectasis: Lungs underinflate due to the pleural lining folding in on itself.
  • Asbestosis: Scarring and inflammation of the lung tissue, which inhibits the normal expansion of the lungs.

Working in a contaminated environment or in a visibly cloudy space for years increases the risk of disease due to the sheer amount of asbestos intake. 

Does Every Asbestos Exposure Lead to Mesothelioma?

Even though asbestos exposure is the cause of mesothelioma, it doesn’t mean that everyone who is exposed will develop it. This disease is quite rare, but certain risk factors make some people more susceptible to developing this cancer, including:

  • Genetics
  • Age
  • Smoking habits
  • Type of asbestos
  • Duration of exposure
  • Amount of asbestos

Knowing that it takes a minimum of twenty years for symptoms to develop, it may be difficult to identify signs of mesothelioma or other correlated diseases right away. While some forms of mesothelioma are unclear, common warning signs include:

  • Chest pain
  • Painful coughing
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Unusual lumps under the skin on the chest
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Unexplained weight loss

Although it’s understandable to be concerned about potential exposure itself, it’s also important to discern the different degrees of asbestos exposure to determine underlying risk factors. While no amount of asbestos exposure is safe, the chance of developing asbestos-related diseases is thankfully slim since it usually requires many years of regular exposure. Then again, if you believe you have been exposed to asbestos, especially at work, it’s best to seek professional help as soon as possible to see what options you have.

What to Do When Exposed to Asbestos at Work

An asbestos-related diagnosis is devastating, and sadly, medical treatment can be quite expensive. If you have been exposed to asbestos at work, you deserve to be fully compensated for the financial, physical, mental, and emotional suffering that workplace asbestos exposure causes.

While you should notify your employer right away, it is also helpful to seek support from a workers’ compensation law firm to understand what benefits you are entitled to. Employers sadly don’t always have your best interest at heart, which is why it’s imperative to work with a legal advocate who can help you navigate this stressful situation.

If you’re unsure what to do when exposed to asbestos at work, you’ve come to the right place. At Mottaz & Sisk, our empathetic attorneys know how challenging this diagnosis can be. Our team has years of experience settling asbestos exposure cases through workers’ compensation laws. 

During this traumatic time, the last thing you want to worry about is whether or not you can navigate a lawsuit. The skilled professionals at Mottaz & Sisk will work to gather all necessary information to ensure you get just compensation for your pain and suffering. Rest assured that you are in great hands with our team.

Remember, you don’t have to go through this experience alone. Contact Mottaz & Sisk today to schedule your free consultation.

Jerry Sisk

Jerry Sisk

Jerry is a Minnesota workers' compensation attorney and work injury lawyer. He a member of the Minnesota State Bar Association, Minnesota Association of Justice, and Anoka County Bar Association. He has 10/10 on Avvo, 5 Stars on Google, AV Rated through Martindale-Hubbell and National Trial Lawyers Top 100. Currently, he is Co-Chair of the Work Comp Section of the Minnesota Association of Justice.