Asbestos is a mineral once widely used in building materials due to its flexibility and resistance to heat and electricity. Since the 1970s, the government has curbed its use due to health concerns. It is no longer mined and processed, and the EPA has banned it in products like paper and flooring felt. If you own an old home in Pennsylvania or work as an auto mechanic, though, there’s still a danger of being exposed to it.
What makes asbestos dangerous
Asbestos fibers can break apart easily and become airborne, and if they are inhaled, they lodge themselves in the lung tissues and raise the risk for diseases like lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma. The important thing to remember is that the fibers need to go airborne. Asbestos can be in any of the following and pose no health risk as long as the fibers are not disturbed:
• Wall and attic insulation
• Vinyl tiling
• Roof shingles
However, a renovation or demolition project will certainly cause problems. Auto mechanics run a high risk for exposure, too, since the mineral continues to be used in brakes, clutches and other parts.
Mesothelioma, a serious condition
Mesothelioma is the most well-known asbestos-related disease. A rare but aggressive cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, abdomen or chest, it may not show symptoms until decades after the initial asbestos exposure.
Seeking compensation after asbestos exposure
Perhaps you have an asbestos case on your hands. You were exposed while working or while using a product that should not have contained the mineral, and now you’re considering filing a claim against the employer or against the manufacturer. A lawyer may help you argue for a fair amount in damages by negotiating with the other side, and if a settlement cannot be achieved, the lawyer might take the case to court.