Workers across Pennsylvania may be exposed to asbestos without knowing it. Exposure to this mineral is linked with a cancer called mesothelioma, which usually affects the pleura, or lining, of the lungs. It may appear as a tumor on the lungs, stomach or chest.

Certain workers are more likely to be around asbestos than others: construction workers and operators heavy machinery, for instance, or anyone who works in old buildings where asbestos-containing materials are still present. Asbestos was regularly used in the past in building materials like tiles, drywall, insulation, roof shingles and pipes.

Some companies will screen their employees on a continual basis for asbestos exposure. This is important even when workers are not directly working with asbestos. This mineral, after all, only becomes a threat when it is inhaled, and that can happen without direct contact with asbestos-containing materials.

In most cases, people are diagnosed with mesothelioma a couple years after becoming ill. But it may be decades after the initial exposure to asbestos. The speed with which the cancer spreads varies, and this partly determines how quickly patients are diagnosed. A correct diagnosis may be hard to come by, too, because mesothelioma symptoms are similar to those of other conditions.

Those who have developed the cancer may be able to pursue a mesothelioma claim against whomever they believe was responsible. It could be the employer, or it could be the maker of a product containing asbestos. Contrary to popular belief, asbestos has not been entirely banned here in the U.S. Before pursuing such a case, though, victims may want a lawyer to give them advice and guidance.