Contrary to popular belief, asbestos products are not illegal in the United States. Not only do many products currently for sale to consumers contain asbestos, Pennsylvania, in particular, has many industries and structures that place people at great risk for exposure. There's no such thing as a safe amount of asbestos exposure. If you're exposed, you're at risk for injury.
There are situations, however, where you may be able to minimize the possible negative effects of asbestos if it's in your home, school, workplace or elsewhere. The more you know about these microscopic fibers, the better precautions you can take. You should also know that your employer is obligated to inform you if there is asbestos in your workplace and also to provide proper training and safety equipment as needed, to help you avoid injury.
Best not to be around any material containing asbestos
Asbestos injuries occur when people ingest or inhale microscopic particles that are floating in the air or lingering on clothing, etc. Such particles are often found in textile materials, in automotive parts, in shipyards and coal mines and even in everyday products, such as cosmetics. The following list shows when asbestos is most dangerous to your health:
- When a material in question is friable, it is a hazard to your health if it contains asbestos. Friable means "able to easily crumble apart in your hand."
- Damaged or deteriorated materials are potentially hazardous to your health.
- Drilling, hammering, sawing or other typical construction or renovation behaviors cause serious asbestos risks because the fibers easily release into the air when a wall, ceiling tile, flooring, cabinetry or other items are disturbed in such ways.
- Any asbestos-laden material that is wet or soggy is particularly hazardous.
Only those certified to do so may remove asbestos materials from a property. Asbestos injuries can exist for years before doctors diagnose them because symptoms are often slow to develop. In other words, you may have worked in a Pennsylvania factory decades ago and are just now experiencing chest discomfort, a lingering cough or other signs of possible asbestos injury.
What to do if you have symptoms
Any questionable symptoms warrant medical examination. If your doctor informs you that you have asbestosis, mesothelioma or some other asbestos-related illness, you'll want to learn as much as you can about your illness so you know how to alleviate symptoms and live as high quality of a life as possible. Such illnesses are often incurable.
There has been mass tort litigation regarding groups of people who suffered similar asbestos injuries. Individuals may also pursue justice on their own by filing a personal injury claim. It's helpful to speak with someone well versed in asbestos litigation laws to gain knowledge about the types of damages you can claim, along with what the best strategies are for obtaining successful results in court.