Hazards of Asbestos Exposure

Workers in many industries (and in many cases, their family members, also) were once commonly exposed to asbestos through ordinary work activities. The use of asbestos is not illegal in the United States, but it is much less common than it used to be, and employers generally take greater care to protect employees from risk.

Nonetheless, we continue to receive inquiries from workers who have been affected by the dangers of asbestos exposure. Some have developed asbestosis. Others have developed various forms of cancer, including pleural mesothelioma — cancer of the lining of the lungs. Its only known cause is asbestos exposure.

Specific Dangers of Asbestos Exposure

Hazards (and outcomes) of asbestos exposure include:

  • Breathing in asbestos fibers, which permeate the lung and can go into the outer layer of the lung, disrupt the DNA and cause cellular changes in body tissues there
    • Scarring of the lungs: asbestosis, pleural plaques and/or pleural thickening
    • Difficulty breathing because of pleural effusion (excess fluid that accumulates between the two pleural layers surrounding the lungs)
    • Tumors in the lung or lining of the lung
  • Swallowing asbestos fibers, sometimes leading to cancer of the lining of the abdomen or cancer of the esophagus, larynx or colon
  • Repeated exposure, shown to increase the likelihood of developing the above-mentioned diseases

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