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Posted on May 17th, 2020
Asbestos exposure, particularly if occurred in industrial settings, can lead to the development of terrible diseases, such as lung cancer and mesothelioma. Up to 20% of former industrial workers will come to struggle with a disease as a consequence of occupational asbestos exposure.
Asbestos was present in tremendous amounts in numerous industrial facilities during the last century, particularly between 1920 and 1980. Exposure to asbestos is very dangerous, as it can lead to the development of terrible diseases, such as asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma, within 20 to 50 years. Asbestos exposure occurs when a person inhales or ingests asbestos fibers from the air which, in industrial facilities, would be released by various work activities. As a consequence of the popularity of asbestos, over 75 occupational groups were heavily exposed to it. According to the estimates of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, 11 million people were exposed to asbestos on the job between 1940 and 1978. 1 in 3 occupational cancer deaths is caused by asbestos exposure and today, more than 20 million individuals throughout the country are at high risk of developing a disease as a result of past asbestos exposure.
While asbestos is a known human carcinogen, it has numerous convenient properties, such as resistance to fire, electricity and chemicals.
Asbestos is also cheap, which determined multiple industries to employ it during the last century, despite the executives of the companies being aware of the awful health effects of exposure.
The following are only some of the occupational groups which had to work with asbestos before 1980:
It is worthy of note that the military also made use of asbestos, especially the U.S. Navy, as the typical ship would have over 300 hazardous materials and products aboard. Consequently, veterans are also at high risk of developing a lung disease as a result of asbestos exposure. It is estimated that up to 30% of veterans will receive a diagnosis related to asbestos exposure at some point during their lifetime.
Because asbestos is so toxic to the human body, exposure is responsible for serious, even life-threatening diseases, the most severe being mesothelioma, a form of cancer which develops on the outer lining of the lungs, the heart, the abdomen or the testicles. The only known cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure. Lung cancer is another common disease people with a history of occupational asbestos exposure come to struggle with. However, it is important to note that diseases which stem from asbestos exposure have a long latency period, so between 20 and 50 years may pass until the onset of a disease. Once inside the body, asbestos fibers can easily travel to various organs and tissues in the body to which they attach to, gradually causing inflammation and scarring. Over the decades, the inflammation and scarring may give way to a disease.
Over 20% of former industrial workers will develop a disease as a consequence of asbestos exposure. For this reason, if you worked in one of the previously mentioned industries before asbestos use was banned, we strongly encourage you to undergo regular medical examination to timely find out about a potential disease you may have developed. It is important to know that, because they are rare, diseases which stem from asbestos exposure can only be diagnosed by a specialist with vast experience. As the majority of medical professionals rarely have the chance to examine people with a history of asbestos exposure, misdiagnosis is very common. Thereby, seeking a second and even a third opinion is highly recommended.