Asbestos has been used for more than 2,000 years starting with the Ancient Greeks who knew that the fiber had powerful fire-resistant properties. What’s even more fascinating is that they also noted that slaves that wove the fiber into cloth used by the wealthy often developed lung problems. Fast forward to the Industrial Revolution and asbestos use grew steadily as factories were built and corporations wanted to protect their investment more than their workers.
By the early 1900s, modern science began to figure out what the Greeks knew a millennium prior – workers that dealt with asbestos grew sick. The first official diagnosis of “asbestosis” was made in 1924. By the 1930s, medical journals began to publish studies linking asbestos to cancer, but corporations still perpetuated its use because it was cheap and effective. They quashed studies and kept information hidden and deliberately exposed workers to what they knew by then was an undeniably dangerous substance.
Asbestos Risk Factors
Although even a short-term exposure to asbestos could cause a serious (or even fatal) illness, prolonged exposure creates even more of a risk and put workers in increased danger of suffering serious effects. Some other factors that increased health risks include:
(1) The concentration of asbestos fibers in the air that was breathed in
(2) How much time you spent each day breathing in asbestos fibers
(3) Whether you were exposed on a daily basis, weekly basis or only periodically
(4) The type of asbestos fibers and the size of the asbestos fibers
Asbestos Risk Industries
If you worked in a high-risk industry, your risk of developing an asbestos disease can be significantly higher. Workers in these industries were more at risk for suffering the most dangerous effects of asbestos exposure. The National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety identified a number of industries that are most closely linked to asbestos related health problems. Some of these included:
(2) Construction trades
(3) Ship and boat building and maintenance
(4) Railroad workers
(5) Steelworks, mills and manufacturing
(6) Power and utility workers
(7) Auto and brake mechanics
Asbestos Risk Effects
Now that you know some of the mitigating factors and occupational risks for asbestos exposure, let’s take a look at five of the most dangerous effects of asbestos exposure:
(1) Asbestosis – This is an illness that causes scarring of the lungs as a result of asbestos exposure. This is an irreversible health condition that makes it hard for you to breathe and can prevent your blood from getting fully oxygenated. Like most asbestos diseases, asbestosis worsens over time and can cause increased health complications.
(2) Laryngeal Cancer – This cancer of the larynx (voice box) is caused by breathing in the toxic fibers and can be aggravated by consuming alcoholic beverages and smoking. This type of cancer has a relatively high recovery rate and may carry one of the least grim prognoses of any of the asbestos related illnesses.
(3) Ovarian Cancer – This cancer has been linked to asbestos and exposed as a dangerous health risk to women who were exposed to asbestos on the job. Asbestos exposure nearly doubles the risk of this cancer although researchers aren’t sure how asbestos fibers are able to get into the ovarian tissue. Ovarian cancer is a high risk illness!
(4) Lung Cancer – This cancer can develop as a result of smoking but for those that are exposed to asbestos and smoke, the risks of developing this often fatal disease can double or triple. Most cases of lung cancer are not related to asbestos and the long term prognosis of lung cancer is typically more positive than for mesothelioma victims.
(5) Mesothelioma – This cancer is the most dangerous effect of asbestos exposure. If you are diagnosed with mesothelioma, it’s statistically very likely that it was caused by asbestos. Survival rates of this disease depend greatly on the stage at which it is diagnosed. Treatment options are evolving but this illness continues to carry a high risk of fatality.
Contact Bergman Draper Oslund for Help with a Mesothelioma Claim
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, Bergman Draper Oslund can help. We work solely with mesothelioma victims and have won more than $700 million in settlements for our clients over the past 15 years. Call us today for a free consultation about your rights to compensation.