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Asbestos exposure in a nutshell

One of the most publicized environmental hazards of the last 30 years has been the occurrence of respiratory diseases created by airborne asbestos fibers. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral, and it was commonly used in all manner of industrial applications before its health effects were fully understood. In North Carolina, the material was used mostly in the textile, construction, and ship building industries, but its durability and resistance to heat also made it suitable for many other industries.

When cut, broken or abraded, asbestos fibers are released into the atmosphere and can be easily inhaled by persons in the same area. Persons who worked directly with asbestos, such as pipe fitters who used it for insulation or valve gaskets, showed the first adverse effects of the white fiber. But victims of asbestos exposure can now be found in almost any industry. Once inhaled, the fibers lodge in the pleural lining of the lung, and they have been proven to cause an especially fatal form of cancer known as mesothelioma. Asbestosis is another disease related to the inhalation of airborne fibers. Asbestos-related diseases, principally mesothelioma and asbestosis, have a very long "latency period," that is, more than twenty years can go by before the victim develops symptoms.

A person who has contracted an asbestos-related disease may have a claim for damages against the manufacturers of the asbestos and asbestos-containing products. Warning signs include fatigue, chest pain, and shortness of breath. Any person with such symptoms should first contact a physician for diagnosis and treatment. If the person wishes to pursue a claim for damages, he or she should contact a lawyer or law firm with experience in handling such cases. The claims are both legally and scientifically complex, and a knowledgeable attorney is a necessary to ensure the best possible outcome.

Source: Lawyers and Settlements, "Asbestos & Mesothelioma Lawsuits," Aug. 1, 2014

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