With in-depth research, new information related to popular objects and trends keeps surfacing from time to time. Just like how after cigarettes gained popularity in the 50s and interest in its research resulted in startling discoveries regarding health, various other areas are still being explored to discover new findings. What was thought to be healthy, was in fact, detrimental to health. But cigarettes are not the only item that revealed themselves as harmful despite their common use. Know about Asbestos Exposure, a mineral extensively used in the production of cement, floor tiles, and insulation, has been known for adverse health effects. Although its negative effects were made public a century ago, it’s use has continued to this day due to impeccable chemical properties — high heat and corrosion resistance.
Its widespread use and demand have continued harming workers in construction, industrial and power plants and shipyards, exposing them to symptoms that lead to health problems and cancer, in worst cases.
If you are or were working in asbestos at-risk industries, there are several things you should know About Asbestos Exposure:
You Can Receive Compensation
The government passed several regulatory acts and issued safety procedures and protocols to follow regarding asbestos exposure. Though its use has been minimized in the industry now, it is still not completely eliminated.
It is estimated that about 2 out of 1000 workers might still experience death even with permissible exposure limits. Because of the past exposure showing effects, asbestos has one of the leading causes of work-related deaths in the US. Those who are lucky enough to survive despite asbestos exposure are still often diagnosed with either asbestosis or mesothelioma. These lives and health losses are hard to bear.
However, under the current legal system, you may be entitled to some compensation if you or your loved one has experienced asbestos exposure. Your first step would be to file a claim after hiring a mesothelioma law firm. Your claim can help you receive compensation in the form of a settlement, trial verdict, or trust fund.
Even bankrupt companies have trust funds set up for asbestos exposure victims. While compensations might vary, some can reach up to one million. With the law firm assisting you in your claim, you can receive the maximum recompence that you can use for treatment.
Know Your Chances of Getting a Disease
If your livelihood is dependent on work in construction, automotive, shipbuilding, chemical, railroad, and plumbing industries, you may be exposed to asbestos regularly.
About 1.3 million workers are at risk of exposure due to prolonged presence in the environment even with low and safe quantities of the material. First responders and firefighters are also at high risk of being exposed to high amounts of asbestos due to the nature of their job.
Although not everyone working around asbestos will be diagnosed with asbestosis or mesothelioma, it’s still important to stay safe and follow the safety protocols diligently.
Asbestos is a fiber and a foreign particle to your body. Your body’s white blood cells attack it to keep you safe from developing symptoms of exposure. This prevents progressive asbestos buildup in cases of minimal or limited exposure. However, with prolonged asbestos deposits, the chances of inflammation and scar tissue formation are increased, leading to health problems.
Your risks of asbestosis development can also further increase because of your DNA composition or if you are or have been a smoker.
If you have been safe from any serious exposure effects, you should take the road of prevention and vigilance to ensure the clean reports stay clean. Be on top of the safety measures within your company/workplace. Educate yourself and learn the risk factors or prevention measures recommended by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Wear proper work clothes that reduce contact with asbestos. Although asbestosis or mesothelioma is not contagious, you can carry the fiber and expose other people in cases of high exposure. For your family’s safety, follow routine decontamination religiously.
Moreover, you should avoid interacting with objects, such as sidings on the house, car brakes, and wall insulations that might contain asbestos. You could take extra precautionary measures if you live in an old house. If you suspect unhealthy asbestos is present in the house, contact a licensed asbestos abatement company to test for and remove asbestos.
The Diagnosis Road
Both asbestosis and mesothelioma affect the chest and lungs. With breathing difficulty, cough, chest pains, and clubbed toes and fingers indicating asbestosis, you might want to meet a doctor. You might have similar symptoms along with fever and blood clots if you are suffering from cancer: mesothelioma.
Although both diseases are very different, they have similar initial diagnosis procedures. Starting with a physical exam and listening to your breathing rhythms, your doctor might prescribe a CT or X-ray scan. The results would indicate the inflammation and scar tissue present in the image. Unfortunately, the buildup for both diseases is over 15 to 20 years, before which imaging doesn’t show any issues. This is why it is imperative to mention your occupation and its details as well as living conditions to your health provider.
If these integral pieces of information are not shared, the chances of misdiagnosing are increased. Different types of biopsies or tests are conducted for the final distinction between the two diseases. Simply put, while observations are made, a sample of cells or tissues is taken and used for cell and pathological identification for final diagnosis.
Treatment and Symptom Management
Being diagnosed with the disease is not the end of your life. You can live for an average of 10 to 12 years despite your conditions if you manage the symptoms well.
Although asbestosis and (often) mesothelioma are not curable diseases, you can have medical treatment to make your life easier. You would be expected to make lifestyle changes in diet and exercise.
Your condition and symptoms may worsen as you age. The medical treatment generally offered is to make your symptoms manageable. Inhalers and supplemental oxygen might become part of your regular life to reduce breathing difficulties. Pain medications and antibiotics would be prescribed to you too. In severe cases, a lung transplant might be needed for asbestosis patients. In mesothelioma, surgeries are often performed to remove the cancerous lumps and lung lining.
In a Nutshell
Your livelihood should not be at the expense of your life or its quality. However, if you have been exposed to asbestos, you should be aware of the legal route to compensation as well as the medical route to make your symptoms manageable.
Although occupational about asbestos exposure is a serious issue, you do not need to worry if your exposure is within the permissible limits. Keep following precautions, get regular checkups and tests done and contact your physician if you experience symptoms. If you get your reports in hand, you should talk to a doctor to understand your treatment options.