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Asbestos Myth Awareness – Part Seven – Asbestos Side Effects Are Immediate

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Myth – Asbestos side effects are felt immediately after exposure.

Fact – Asbestos fibers are so small they are completely invisible to the naked eye, so you may not realize you have been exposed. In some cases, asbestos dust can be seen so exposure may be known.

Fact – Unlike other toxins, the effects of asbestos take decades to gestate. Other on the job toxin exposures like chemicals or caustic agents can be felt immediately after you breathe them in. With asbestos, you won’t feel it if you breathe it in, if you swallow it or if it’s on your work clothes or skin.

Fact – Because asbestos fibers are invisible to the naked eye, many workers carried fibers home on their work clothes or tracked them in on their shoes. If you worked in a high-risk industry, you may have exposed your family and never realized it. It will take decades to know if it caused damage.

Fact – While asbestos cancers typically take decades to gestate and be diagnoses, other non-cancerous asbestos illnesses may develop much faster. Among these are pleural effusions, pleural plaques and asbestosis.

Fact – Studies have shown the most rapid asbestos-related illness to develop is pleural effusion. The outer surface of the lungs is coated by a protective tissue called the pleura which is in two layers. Pleural effusion is a fluid build up between these two layers which can develop in as little as one year after exposure. This effusion is not fatal but makes breathing difficult and may be a symptom of mesothelioma.

Fact – The next fastest asbestos-related illness that can develop is asbestosis. This is a chronic lung disease that can develop fully within seven years after exposure to asbestos. It causes scarring of the lung tissue and leads to chronic breathing difficulties. There is no cure for asbestosis.

FactPleural plaques take nearly as long to gestate as mesothelioma or asbestos lung cancer. It takes 20 to 30 years to develop and is very common in those who have experienced significant exposure to asbestos. It can cause discomfort while breathing but is not fatal.

FactAsbestos-related lung cancer is caused when asbestos fibers are inhaled and eventually irritate, inflame and damage lung tissue to the extent that cancerous tumors form. This asbestos disease is most common in those that were exposed to asbestos and were also smokers. The gestation period typically ranges from 15 to 35 years.

FactMesothelioma usually has the longest latency period of all asbestos diseases. It typically takes 20 to 50 years from exposure to diagnosis and is the most serious of all asbestos-related illnesses. The mesothelium is a layer of cells that surrounds organs such as the heart, chest and abdomen. Cancer develops as a result of asbestos fibers permeating this layer. This condition is difficult to treat.

Because asbestos-related illnesses take so long to gestate and the fibers are invisible to the human eye, you may not know that you or a loved one were affected for years to come. Asbestos-related diseases are devastating.


Our practice focuses on advocating for mesothelioma victims, handles more asbestos cases than any other firm in our region and have won more than $700 million for our clients.