A lot more information regarding the dangers of asbestos is available nowadays than existed three or four decades ago. Back then, if you were a factory worker or earned a living in a Pittsburgh steel mill, shipyard or coal mine, you might not have known that, every time you reported to work, you were at risk for certain cancers and asbestos-related illnesses. In fact, you might not have even known what asbestos was or the potential risks it poses to human health.
Nowadays, most employers in factories, railroads and other high-risk industries understand that there is no safe amount of asbestos exposure. Employers have an obligation to provide all information, training and safety equipment available to help keep workers safe. The problem is that it’s not only the workers themselves who are in danger. Family members who wait for them at home can also suffer serious health conditions due to asbestos in their loved ones’ work environments.
Arm yourself with information
The more you know about asbestos and its related adverse health risks, the better able you’ll be to protect yourself and your family, as well as to care for a loved one who has already received a diagnosis of mesothelioma, asbestosis or other illness. The following list provides facts that can help educate you regarding asbestos-related risks in workplaces throughout Pennsylvania:
- Asbestos particles are microscopic and often enter people’s bodies through inhalation or ingestion.
- Construction work or other manipulation of asbestos-laden materials releases the particles into the air. Such action includes drilling, scraping, hammering or peeling.
- When materials containing asbestos are wet, they are especially friable, meaning they crumble easily in the hand, thus increasing asbestos injury risk because crumbling floor tiles, ceiling materials or other products quickly release asbestos into the surrounding atmosphere.
- Workers often bring asbestos into their homes without realizing it. That’s because the unseen particles may be clinging to their clothing, hair or skin, and loved ones may unknowingly breathe it in or ingest it.
- Symptoms of asbestos illness may remain hidden for years before an afflicted person knows he or she is sick.
- Even brief exposure can be enough to cause incurable asbestos-related illness.
If you work in a place where you suspect there may be asbestos, it is critical to make sure your employer is adhering to all safety laws and regulations. Independent research and study can provide additional information to help you be proactive in keeping yourself and your loved ones safe.
If a doctor’s diagnosis confirms your suspicion
If you or your family member has a lingering cough, chest pain or other discomfort that you believe may be associated with possible asbestos exposure, it is imperative that you seek immediate medical attention. Your doctor will have an easier time forming a diagnosis if you are sure to inform him or her about your working conditions. Many asbestos illnesses are terminal.
Building a strong support system to help provide care as symptoms worsen, and to address legal issues that arise, is a key factor in preserving as high quality a life as possible as you cope with an incurable disease.