While there are plenty of dangers in our modern world, the buildings where we spend hundreds of thousands of hours working—as well as our homes, in some cases—could potentially be harming our health.
Corporate buildings constructed prior to the 1980’s tend to have many components which contain asbestos, including fireproofing materials applied on steel beams and columns.
Asbestos was also added to siding, joint compounds, adhesives, wallboard, pipes, roof shingles, concrete and asphalt to increase the strength of these building components. Asbestos is also highly heat-resistant, making it the perfect thermal insulation, and was used in acoustical plaster and as a component of a mixture sprayed on walls and ceilings.
In fact, asbestos was almost considered a “miracle” material for those in the building industry for decades.
Yet when asbestos is damaged, crumbled, or in a state of disrepair, there is a significant health risk to the occupants of the building, as well as to maintenance workers and repair personnel. Should the building be demolished, remodeled or renovated, the exposure risks increase dramatically.
In some cases, materials which contain asbestos can be contained by using liquid encapsulations—liquid materials applied to seal asbestos fibers in, keeping them from releasing. Other times, when the asbestos is powdered or crumbled (and widespread), removal may be the only option.
Those who work with asbestos have an even higher risk of developing mesothelioma or other cancers related to asbestos exposure.
What Makes Asbestos So Dangerous?
Asbestos fibers are minuscule—too tiny to be seen with the naked eye.
To put this into context, a human hair is generally between 17 and 181 micrometers thick, while an asbestos fiber is between 3 and 20 micro-meters thick.
When disturbed, those asbestos fibers break up and flood the air, being readily inhaled into the lungs. These tiny fibers can be responsible for serious illnesses and potentially deadly diseases, such as mesothelioma.
When asbestos fibers are inhaled, a cancerous layer settles on the membranes which protect the inner organs.
When mesothelioma reaches the crucial stage, symptoms such as these occur:
- dry cough
- pain in the chest
However by the time those symptoms come to light, the disease has usually progressed too far to treat.
Some may also notice:
- Chest pain
- abdominal pain
- muscle weakness.
Mesothelioma is considered so deadly for the precise reason that the disease can lay dormant for decades without the patient noticing.
Mesothelioma drains the energy of those stricken by it, often leaving the patient bedridden, incapable of doing virtually anything, riddled with pain.
Some 3,000 people are newly diagnosed with mesothelioma each year; the average live expectancy for those diagnosed is 6-12 months, and only about 33 percent of patients diagnosed with mesothelioma live longer than a year.
Because of the latency period, most people are diagnosed between the ages of 50 and 70, and about a third of all mesothelioma patients are veterans.
Jobs which predispose workers to mesothelioma include:
- industrial jobs
- construction workers
- shipyard workers
About 80 percent of all mesothelioma cases are pleural, meaning the lining of the lungs is affected.
The most common types of treatments for pleural mesothelioma is a combination of chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery. In addition to the stage of the pleural mesothelioma when it is diagnosed, the patient’s overall health and age will affect the prognosis.
Pleural mesothelioma can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms can mimic those associated with whooping cough, pneumonia, laryngitis, colds or the flu.
If you were exposed to asbestos at some point in your life, and have now been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it is important that you contact an experienced mesothelioma attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will ensure your rights are truly protected from start to finish.