Asbestos is a mineral once commonly used in building materials, and continual exposure to it will lead to serious conditions like mesothelioma. Most asbestos-related illnesses will not appear until decades after exposure. Pennsylvania workers who know they were exposed, then, would do well to start monitoring their health and looking for signs of illness.

A number of industries face the risk of asbestos exposure, including the construction, automotive repair, welding, shipbuilding and firefighting industries. Asbestos miners and manufacturers of asbestos textiles are also, obviously, at risk.

Asbestos is still used in brake linings, cement pipes, and insulation. It poses no threat as long as the material it’s in is not damaged. Once it is disturbed and becomes airborne, then the fibers can be inhaled and trapped inside the lungs. This is why workers removing materials from an old building, for example, are some of the most vulnerable to asbestos-related illness.

Military members are at particularly high risk for illness. During World War II, for example, many military ships were built with asbestos-containing materials. From the Korean War up to the Iraq and Afghanistan War, veterans of all recent conflicts have likely been exposed to the mineral. Lastly, the family members of asbestos workers can be exposed, too, since the fibers can remain on clothes and shoes.

Since mesothelioma, asbestosis and other asbestos-related diseases usually appear decades after exposure, victims may wonder if they can even pursue a asbestos exposure claim. The answer is that they can; the statute of limitations only counts the time from one’s diagnosis, not from the time of asbestos exposure. A lot will be involved in filing a claim, so victims may want a lawyer by their side. The lawyer may bring in medical experts, too, to strengthen the case before heading off to negotiations.