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Delayed impact of asbestos killing many victims

While federal regulations have limited employees' ongoing exposure to toxic asbestos in the workplace, the impact of earlier laxity lingers on. In North Carolina and elsewhere, asbestos exposure still is a killer causing wrongful death and devastating illnesses including cancers and respiratory ailments.

In the 1970s and 1980s, many people coming home after a long hard day at work routinely interacted with their spouse and each of their children. What wasn't so apparent to many of them was that they were engaged in the transmission of a deadly substance imported from many workplaces. Asbestos dust coating their clothing was sent into the air.

The tiny fibers were 50 to 200 times smaller than the width of a hair. This caused them to become embedded in the lungs of everyone in the household. Today, decades later, those workers, their spouses, and their children, now all grown up, are in numerous cases suffering from deadly maladies like mesothelioma, a form of lung cancer for which there is no known cure.

Asbestos was then used almost universally in many building components because it was durable, waterproof, and relatively cheap. Now, tragically, many families are paying for the consequences in which the blame belongs squarely on the shoulders of employers who used asbestos in the workplace, and manufacturers who provided the countless products that brought asbestos into workplaces and homes.

In addition to mesothelioma, other forms of lung cancer are traced to asbestos exposure, such as pleural plaques that involve the development of thick patches on lung linings and chests, and restrictions of breathing caused by scarring and hardening of tissues in the lungs. This condition is referred to as asbestosis.

Source: Herald Sun, "Asbestos: Silent killer in homes," Nov. 4, 2012

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