Nearly everyone is exposed to asbestos at some time during their life. However, most people do not become ill from their exposure. People who become ill from asbestos are usually those who are exposed to it on a regular basis, most often in a job where they work directly with the material or through substantial environmental contact. Asbestos exposure has been linked to a number of life-threatening diseases, including lung cancer and Mesothelioma. The latency period between the time of exposure to asbestos, the diseases do not surface for 20-40 years. Asbestosis is the scarring of the lungs that leads to breathing problems and heart failure. Workers who manufacture or use asbestos products and have high exposures to asbestos are often affected with asbestosis. Mesothelioma is a rare cancer of the lining of the chest and abdomen lining.
The symptoms of asbestos related lung disease, like shortness of breath, may take years to show up. Even if you feel fine, don't make the mistake of thinking that you don't need to take precautions. By the time symptoms appear lung cancer may have already spread to other parts of the body. If you have asbestosis- a disease which cannot be cured, you may not be aware of the symptoms for years! Prevention is the only way to stay healthy.
The early signs of asbestos are similar to pneumonia with symptoms including chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath, persistent cough, weight loss, fever, nausea and a build up of fluid in the lungs (shown by a chest x-ray) and abdomen swelling (for those affected by peritoneal Mesothelioma).
The most commonly affected lung is the right, approximately 60% of the time, while symptoms in both lungs are rare at 5% of the time.
Asbestos illness develops at a slow rate, making it difficult for people to know when they have it.. If you have worked with or been exposed to asbestos you should get screened, even if you do not feel sick. Asbestos - Mesothelioma is more treatable when diagnosed early. Patients often experience symptoms for 4-6 months before the diagnosis is made.
Other symptoms of asbestos illness (Mesothelioma Symptoms) include the following:
Weight loss (23%)
Increased sputum production (18%)
The most common findings on physical examination (79%) are signs of pleural effusion (eg, dullness to percussion or decreased breath sounds).
Asbestos Symptoms (Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms) Include:
Abdominal pain (60%)
Abdominal distention (56%)
Weight loss (38%)
Abdominal mass (11%)
Frequency of Mesothelioma
Asbestos Symptoms (Pleural Mesothelioma Symptoms) (involving the lung / chest area) include:
- chest pain and pain in the lower back
- difficulty breathing
- weight loss
- muscle weakness and sensory loss
- swelling of the face and arms
- coughing up blood
Asbestos Symptoms (Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms involving the abdominal / stomach cavity, liver, spleen or the bowel) include:
- abdominal bloating due to fluid accumulation in the abdominal cavity
- nausea & vomiting
- swelling of the feet
- impaired bowel function.
Asbestos Symptoms (Pericardial Mesothelioma Symptoms) - The most infrequent form of this rare asbestos-linked cancer, individuals with pericardial mesothelioma have cancerous growths in tissues surrounding the heart. The early symptoms indicating pericardial mesothelioma include:
- chest pain
Early symptoms of mesothelioma are often ignored or mistaken for minor ailments because they are not specific to the disease. It is important to get checked by an experienced mesothelioma doctor as soon as you suspect any of these symptoms.
Asbestos In Your Home
If you think asbestos may be in your home, don't touch it, but look for signs of wear or damage such as tears, abrasions, or water damage. Damaged material may release asbestos fibers.
Check material regularly if you suspect it may contain asbestos. If asbestos material is more than slightly damaged, or if you are going to make changes in your home that might disturb it, repair or removal by a professional is needed. Before you have your house remodeled, find out whether asbestos materials are present.
Where Asbestos Hazards May Be Found In The Home
- Some roofing and siding shingles are made of asbestos cement.
- Houses built between 1930 and 1950 may have asbestos as insulation.
- Asbestos may be present in textured paint and in patching compounds used on wall and ceiling joints. Their use was banned in 1977.
- Artificial ashes and embers sold for use in gas-fired fireplaces may contain asbestos.
- Older products such as stove-top pads may have some asbestos compounds.
- Walls and floors around woodburning stoves may be protected with asbestos paper, millboard, or cement sheets.
- Asbestos is found in some vinyl floor tiles and the backing on vinyl sheet flooring and adhesives.
- Hot water and steam pipes in older houses may be coated with an asbestos material or covered with an asbestos blanket or tape.
- Oil and coal furnaces and door gaskets may have asbestos insulation.
How To Identify Materials That Contain Asbestos
You can't tell whether a material contains asbestos simply by looking at it, unless it is labeled. If in doubt, treat the material as if it contains asbestos or have it sampled and analyzed by a qualified professional. A professional should take samples for analysis, since a professional knows what to look for, and because there may be an increased health risk if fibers are released. In fact, if done incorrectly, sampling can be more hazardous than leaving the material alone. Taking samples yourself is not recommended. If you nevertheless choose to take the samples yourself, take care not to release asbestos fibers into the air or onto yourself. Material that is in good condition and will not be disturbed (by remodeling, for example) should be left alone. Only material that is damaged or will be disturbed should be sampled. Anyone who samples asbestos-containing materials should have as much information as possible on the handling of asbestos before sampling, and at a minimum, should observe the following procedures:
- Make sure no one else is in the room when sampling is done.
- Wear disposable gloves or wash hands after sampling.
- Shut down any heating or cooling systems to minimize the spread of any released fibers.
- Do not disturb the material any more than is needed to take a small sample.
- Place a plastic sheet on the floor below the area to be sampled.
- Wet the material using a fine mist of water containing a few drops of detergent before taking the sample. The water/detergent mist will reduce the release of asbestos fibers.
- Carefully cut a piece from the entire depth of the material using, for example, a small knife, corer, or other sharp object. Place the small piece into a clean container (for example, a 35 mm film canister, small glass or plastic vial, or high quality resealable plastic bag).
- Tightly seal the container after the sample is in it.
- Carefully dispose of the plastic sheet. Use a damp paper towel to clean up any material on the outside of the container or around the area sampled. Dispose of asbestos materials according to state and local procedures.
- Label the container with an identification number and clearly state when and where the sample was taken.
- Patch the sampled area with the smallest possible piece of duct tape to prevent fiber release.
Asbestos and Smoking
Many studies have shown that the combination of smoking and asbestos exposure is particularly hazardous. Smokers who are also exposed to asbestos have a greatly increased risk of lung cancer. However, smoking combined with asbestos exposure does not appear to increase the risk of Mesothelioma.
There is evidence that quitting smoking will reduce the risk of lung cancer among asbestos-exposed workers. People who were exposed to asbestos on the job at any time during their life or who suspect they may have been exposed should not smoke. If they smoke, they should stop.
Asbestos Lawyer Referral
Did You Know?
Over 80% of patients with Mesothelioma are male.
MesotheliomaHelpCenter.ORG is a FREE consumer service. Our goal is to help legal consumers get in touch legal professionals and to keep the public aware of new discoveries in treatments for Asbestos. We maintain a current Asbestos article library and we keep you up to date on current legal settlements for Asbestos cases.
Those dealing with an Asbestos related illness face a number of challenges, including the tremendous costs of treatment. If you were unknowingly exposed to harmful levels of Asbestos , you have legal rights. You May Be Entitled To Monetary Compensation.
If you are in need of legal advice or services, or simply wish to speak to an attorney who has successfully handled Asbestos cases in your state, you may use this Free Online Consultation Form .
For those diagnosed with asbestos cancer / mesothelioma it is very important to consult with an experienced asbestos lawyer. In most cases there are funds available for your treatment and personal suffering. Call us Toll Free at 800.291.0963 or use our Mesothelioma Attorney Contact Form located on the right side of this page for a quick response.There is NO COST or obligation for this service.
Did you know?
The name Asbestos was given to this mineral by the Ancient Greeks. The word “Asbestos” literally means inextinguishable.
Asbestos symptoms include shortness of breath due to pleural effusion (fluid between the lung and the chest wall) or chest wall pain, and general symptoms such as weight loss
Asbestos Signs and Symptoms:
- abdominal pain
- bowel function problems
- chest wall pain
- weight loss
- pleural effusion, or fluid surrounding the lung
- shortness of breath
- fatigue or anemia
- wheezing, hoarseness, or cough
- blood in the sputum (fluid) coughed up (hemoptysis)
Asbestos Signs and Symptoms in Severe Cases:
- blood clots in the veins, which may cause thrombophlebitis
- disseminated intravascular coagulation, a disorder causing severe bleeding in many body organs
- jaundice, or yellowing of the eyes and skin
- low blood sugar level
- pleural effusion
- pulmonary emboli, or blood clots in the arteries of the lungs
- severe ascites
Asbestos and Asbestosis
Asbestosis is a scarring of lung tissue caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibers. A portion of the fibers reach the alveoli (air sacs) where oxygen is transferred into the blood. Asbestos activates the lung's immune system and starts a reaction best described as an inflammatory process. Scavenger white blood cells (macrophages) try to break down the asbestos (phagocytosis) but are not successful, causing other cells (fibroblasts) to grow and form connective-tissue-based scars.
The formation of scar tissue or collagen in the lungs is known as fibrosis. The scar tissue slowly builds up, often reducing the lung's ability to deliver oxygen to the blood and remove carbon dioxide (reduced diffusion capacity). The total lung capacity or TLC may also be reduced. In severe cases, the impairment of lung function can strain the heart, or even result in heart disease, such as right-sided heart failure or "cor pulmonale."
Asbestosis and the Inflammatory Process
The inflammatory process starts within hours or days after inhalation of asbestos and injury at the cellular level begins shortly thereafter. In people who develop asbestosis, the inflammatory process continues to progress, fueled by indestructible asbestos fibers, even after exposure to asbestos ceases.
This asbestosis inflammatory process may continue undetected for decades causing no pain or respiratory symptoms. In many people, the process eventually produces symptoms-breathing abnormalities and radiographic changes. Usually, the first symptoms are shortness of breath and a dry cough. These symptoms often precede abnormalities on chest x-ray or pulmonary function tests. The period between exposure and diagnosis is called "latency" and may range from 10 to 50 years.
Asbestosis is a chronic inflammation of the lungs. The inflammation is a direct result of exposure to asbestos. Asbestosis is a progressive disease with no cure. The inflammation causes shortness of breath, which will get progressively worse as the disease progresses. Physicians can treat some of the symptoms of asbestosis with auxiliary oxygen, but it will not cure the disease. Death due to asbestosis occurs by respiratory failure.
Asbestos and Smoking
Unlike lung cancer, there is no association between mesothelioma and asbestos cancer and smoking.
Smoking does not appear to increase the risk of mesothelioma and asbestos. However, the combination of smoking and asbestos exposure significantly increases a person’s risk of developing cancer of the lungs.
The Kent brand of cigarettes used asbestos in its filters for the first few years of production in the 1950s and some cases of mesothelioma and asbestos have resulted. Smoking modern cigarettes does not appear to increase the risk of mesothelioma and asbestos.
The combination of smoking and asbestos exposure significantly increases a person's risk of developing cancer of the airways (lung cancer, bronchial carcinoma).
If you do smoke, stop. In addition to mesothelioma and asbestosis, there is research that indicates that those who suffer from asbestos exposure and smoke are at a greatly increased risk of developing mesothelioma and asbestos lung cancer.
Asbestos Historical Usage
The name Asbestos was given to this mineral by the Ancient Greeks. The word “Asbestos” literally means inextinguishable.
The Greeks termed asbestos the "miracle mineral" because of its soft and pliant properties, as well as its ability to withstand heat.
The Greek geographer Strabo and the Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder noted that the material damaged lungs of slaves who wove it into cloth.
Asbestos became increasingly popular among manufacturers and builders in the late 19th century due to its resistance to heat, electricity and chemical damage, its ability to absorb sound.
By the mid 20th century asbestos use included fire retardant coatings, concrete, bricks, pipes and fireplace cement, heat, fire, and acid resistant gaskets, pipe insulation, ceiling insulation, fireproof drywall, flooring, roofing, lawn furniture, and drywall joint compound.
Asbestos has been mined and used commercially since the late 1800s. It was used widely used during World War II.
What You Need Top Know About Asbestos
By 1970, it is estimated that some 25 million tons of asbestos were used in the U.S.
A history of asbestos exposure in the workplace is reported in about 80 percent of all mesothelioma cases.
Eight million people in the United States have been exposed to asbestos over the past half a century.
Studies estimate that approximately 3,000 different types of commercial products include asbestos.
The National Institute of Health in 1978 estimated that eight to eleven million U.S. workers had been exposed to asbestos by that date.
Through 2003, more than 700,000 People had filed claims against more than 6,000 Asbestos companies.
Many building materials used in both public and domestic premises prior to the banning of asbestos may still contain asbestos.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) set limits for acceptable levels of asbestos exposure in the workplace.
In 2005, 2.2 million tons of asbestos were mined worldwide. Russia was the largest producer with about 40% world share followed by China and Kazakhstan.
The first documented death related to asbestos was in 1906. In the early 1900s researchers began to notice a large number of early deaths and lung problems in asbestos mining towns.
The term Mesothelioma was not used in medical literature until 1931, and was not associated with asbestos until sometime in the 1940s.
Asbestos exposure becomes a health concern when high concentrations of asbestos fibers are inhaled over a long time period
Asbestos was used in the first 40 floors of the World Trade Center towers causing an airborne contamination among lower Manhattan after the towers collapsed in the attacks on September 11th, 2001
Inhaled asbestos fibers remain in the body and cannot be expelled. Because of this, the fibers can easily penetrate body tissues and may deposit themselves in airways and in the lung tissue.
It is estimated that 27.5 million Americans were exposed to asbestos between 1940 and 1979.
Mesothelioma has a latency period of 20 to 50 years after the first exposure to asbestos.
Many asbestos-containing products remain in buildings, ships, industrial facilities and other environments where the fibers can become airborne.
Mesothelioma from asbestos occurs more often in men than in women and risk increases with age, but this disease can appear in either men or women at any age.
Family members and others living with asbestos workers have an increased risk of developing mesothelioma, and possibly other asbestos related diseases.
If you are a grieving family member or executor of the will of a person who has died from asbestos-related disease or mesothelioma, you may be eligible to file a claim as well.
Asbestos Lawsuit - Note of Urgency
The first known asbestos lawsuit was in 1929 in New Jersey.
The first diagnosis of asbestosis was made in England in 1924.
The first known US workers' compensation claim for asbestos disease was in 1927.
Asbestos litigation is the longest, most expensive mass tort in U.S. history, involving more than 8,400 defendants and 730,000 claimants as of 2002 according to the RAND Corporation
Analysts have estimated that the total costs of asbestos litigation in the USA alone is over $250 billion.
In 1999 recorded a whopping 200,000 cases pending in the Federal court system of the United States
It is estimated that within the next 40 years asbestos cases may grow to seven hundred thousand cases. These numbers help explain how there are thousands of current pending cases.
An experienced Asbestos Lawyer understands the unique complexities involved in this kind of litigation lawsuit, including asbestos product identification, specific asbestos-related medical issues, and specific time constraints that narrow the window of opportunity to file a claim. It's important to find the right Asbestos lawyer before your state's statutes of limitations expire, leaving you and your family grieving and empty-handed. There's no time to wait - contact our Asbestos lawyers today for a free case review.
It is not uncommon for there to be 10-20 parties that are named in an Asbestos lawsuit that are located across the United States. For example, a worker in California may have been exposed to asbestos from asbestos products shipped from Libby, Montana or from an iron ore plant in St. Paul Minnesota. This is why it is very important to obtain an experienced Asbestos lawyer knows all of the companies in each state who have responsibility for your asbestos exposure.
We help with you file Mesothelioma and Asbestos-related claims in each state
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