Six naturally occurring minerals go by the name of asbestos, but you don’t want to be exposed to any of them. Unfortunately, many people in Pennsylvania have been exposed and continue to be. Asbestos mining began in the late 1800s and peaked during World War II before the use of this mineral, which was sought after for its durability and heat-resistant qualities, became limited in the 1970s. It has not been banned outright, though.

Workers and owners of old homes at risk

Asbestos fibers, if inhaled, can enter the lungs and lodge there, scarring the tissue and giving rise to diseases like lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma. Asbestos miners run a high risk for these conditions as do:

• Shipyard workers
• Building demolition experts
• Drywall removers
• Auto mechanics

The mineral can be found in wall and attic insulation, floor tiles and roofing shingles of many old homes. Homeowners who disturb the mineral in any way, such as by having a renovation project done, risk inhaling its fibers. Asbestos is also found in car brakes and clutches.

Calculating the risk for a disease

The risk for an asbestos-related disease can depend on the dosage, the duration and whether the individual smokes or has a preexisting lung condition. Smokers exposed to asbestos are more likely to develop lung cancer, but their chances of getting mesothelioma are no higher than non-smokers’.

Filing an asbestos-related claim

Perhaps you were exposed to asbestos through another’s negligence. You used a product that should not have contained it, or you worked around asbestos without receiving the proper protective gear and training from your employer. Whatever the case may be, you might benefit from legal representation. A lawyer may be able to negotiate on your behalf with the responsible parties and seek out a reasonable settlement, one that covers past and future medical expenses, lost wages and more.