Asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral used in various construction materials, was once considered a miracle substance due to its resistance to heat and fire. However, it was later discovered that prolonged exposure to asbestos fibers can cause serious health issues, including mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis. Despite this knowledge, many companies and individuals continued to use asbestos in their products and construction projects, leading to countless cases of illness and death. In this article, we will explore the long-term health effects of asbestos exposure and the legal liability associated with ignoring its dangers.
The Health Effects of Asbestos Exposure
When asbestos fibers are inhaled, they can become lodged in the lungs and cause damage over time. Asbestos-related diseases have a long latency period, meaning they can take decades to develop after exposure. As a result, many individuals who were exposed to asbestos in the 1960s and 1970s are just now experiencing the symptoms of these diseases.
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, abdomen, or heart. It is caused almost exclusively by exposure to asbestos and has a poor prognosis, with a five-year survival rate of only 10%. Lung cancer, which can also be caused by asbestos exposure, has a better survival rate but is still a serious illness that can significantly impact quality of life.
Asbestosis is a chronic lung disease that occurs when asbestos fibers cause scarring in the lungs, making it difficult to breathe. Symptoms of asbestosis include shortness of breath, persistent coughing, and chest pain. There is no cure for asbestosis, and treatment options are limited.
Legal Liability for Asbestos Exposure
Asbestos use in construction and other industries was widespread for many years, and companies that used asbestos in their products or exposed their employees to asbestos fibers can be held liable for any resulting illnesses. In the United States, numerous lawsuits have been filed against companies for their negligence in protecting their employees from asbestos exposure. In some cases, companies knowingly exposed their workers to asbestos despite knowing the risks.
The legal process for filing an asbestos-related lawsuit can be complex, but it typically involves proving that the defendant had a duty to protect the plaintiff from asbestos exposure and failed to do so. Evidence of the plaintiff’s exposure to asbestos, as well as medical records indicating an asbestos-related illness, will also be required. In many cases, settlements are reached before a trial occurs, but some cases do go to court, resulting in significant awards for plaintiffs.
In addition to companies that used asbestos in their products or construction projects, property owners may also be held liable for failing to remove asbestos from their buildings or failing to warn occupants of its presence. Landlords, school districts, and other entities that own or manage buildings may be responsible for removing asbestos and taking measures to prevent exposure.
Preventing Asbestos Exposure
The most effective way to prevent asbestos-related illnesses is to avoid exposure to asbestos fibers. If you work in a field where you may be exposed to asbestos, it is important to take proper precautions, such as wearing protective gear and following safety protocols. Individuals who suspect they may have been exposed to asbestos in the past should speak with their doctor, who can monitor their health and recommend screening tests if necessary.
If you own or manage a property that was built before 1980, it is possible that it contains asbestos. Asbestos can be found in a variety of building materials, including insulation, flooring, and roofing materials. If you suspect that your building contains asbestos, it is important to have it tested by a qualified professional. If asbestos is present, it should be removed by a licensed asbestos abatement contractor to minimize the risk of exposure.
Asbestos is a dangerous substance that can cause serious health issues, including mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis. Despite the known risks, many individuals and companies continued to use asbestos in their products and construction projects, leading to countless cases of illness and death. Legal action can be taken against companies and property owners who fail to protect individuals from asbestos exposure. The most effective way to prevent asbestos-related illnesses is to avoid exposure to asbestos fibers, either through proper safety protocols in the workplace or by having asbestos removed from buildings by qualified professionals. By taking these steps, we can minimize the long-term health effects of asbestos exposure and protect ourselves and future generations from its dangers.
If you suspect that your property may contain asbestos, it is important to have it tested by a qualified asbestos testing service to confirm its presence and determine the appropriate course of action. By relying on the expertise of professionals in the asbestos testing industry, individuals and property owners can ensure that their buildings are safe and free from asbestos fibers, thus minimizing the risk of exposure and protecting themselves and future generations from the long-term health effects of asbestos.