What is Asbestos and Where Is It Found?
Asbestos is a grouping of 6 natural minerals that are made of soft, flexible fibers. These fibers are resistant to corrosion, heat, fire, and electricity. Although these properties make the mineral useful, it also makes exposure to asbestos dangerous.
The 6 types of asbestos can be categorized as either amphibole and serpentine. Serpentine asbestos fibers are curly and are known as chrysotile—white asbestos. Amphibole asbestos fibers are straight and form jagged shapes. There are five types of amphibole asbestos fibers, including crocidolite, amosite, anthophyllite, tremolite, and actinolite.
The current main exporters of asbestos are Russia, Kazakhstan, and China; however, asbestos is found throughout the world. Asbestos was also mined in the United States mainly on the western and eastern coastal regions from the 1900s until 2002.
Most Common Ways to Be Exposed to Asbestos
The most common way to be exposed to asbestos is through the workplace; however, anyone who encounters asbestos in homes, buildings, and thousands of products ranging from constructional materials to consumer goods may be in danger.
Many workers and maintenance contractors at industrial and commercial jobsites can also be exposed to dangerous levels of asbestos at their workplace. The high-heat environment of jobsites such as steel mills, breweries, power plants, and oil refineries requires heat-resistant protective equipment, some of which is made with asbestos. Sadly, this places these workers at a high risk of asbestos exposure.
Family members of veterans and industrial workers have an increased risk of developing an asbestos exposure-related disease due to secondhand exposure. Secondary exposure accounts for about 20% of Mesothelioma cases and occurs when individuals working in jobsites containing asbestos come home with asbestos fibers on their clothes, skin, or hair. These fibers can cling onto fabrics and skin, which makes them transferable to the worker’s loved ones.
Consumers are also at risk of general exposure in products made with asbestos that were manufactured prior to 2002. Although some materials such as insulation and siding were largely only in direct use by certain industries, consumer goods such as hair dryers and crock pots at one time contained asbestos. Despite regulations to discontinue the use of asbestos in many of these products, certain products such as insulation may still contain up to 1% asbestos.
Symptoms of Asbestos Exposure-Related Injuries
The Environmental Protection Agency stated that Mesothelioma and Asbestosis are major health issues associated with asbestos exposure.
What is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a fatal cancer most frequently caused by inhaling asbestos fibers and usually forms in the lining of the lungs, abdomen or heart. About 8 in 10 Mesothelioma patients have suffered asbestos exposure. The average life expectancy for Mesothelioma patients is between 12 and 21 months.
Symptoms of Mesothelioma include:
- Dry coughing
- Coughing up blood
- Shortness of breath
- Respiratory complications
- Pain in the chest or abdomen
- Fever or night sweats
- Pleural effusion (fluid around the lungs)
- Weakness in the muscles
- Lumps under the skin of the chest
What is Asbestosis?
Asbestosis is a lung disease that is incurable and makes breathing more difficult. The condition is most commonly caused by long-term asbestos exposure. Asbestos exposure comes from inhaling asbestos fibers, which can result in lung scarring and stiffness. As a result of this, the patient’s ability to take deep breaths is limit. Asbestosis is not cancer, but an Asbestosis diagnosis can result in an increased risk of developing an asbestos-related cancer.
Symptoms of Asbestosis include:
- Persistent dry cough
- Swelling in the neck or face
- Cracking sound when breathing
- Difficulty swallowing
- Shortness of breath
- Finger clubbing (enlarged fingertips)
- Nail deformities
- Loss of weight/appetite
GoldenbergLaw Can Help
If you or a loved one has suffered from Asbestosis and/or Mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos, contact the Minnesota Asbestos Attorneys at GoldenbergLaw. We have over 30 years of experience litigating complex toxic exposure cases, let us provide you with the Gold standard of advocacy that you deserve!