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Asbestos exposure can cause serious and fatal lung diseases

The possibility of suffering from mesothelioma, lung cancer or other types of lung diseases is greatly enhanced by substantial asbestos exposure. This is clearly proven by studies that have looked at the incidence of such diseases in employees who experienced cumulative exposures to asbestos.

Workers are at risk of these fatal diseases in a number of different work environments. Employees can be at risk of exposure to asbestos in shipyards, steel mills, and even chemical refineries, to name a few. However diseases can develop gradually over a lifetime of exposure in the workplace.

Those working with asbestos may not develop asbestosis or lung cancer until 15 years of more after first being exposed. Mesothelioma can develop even later, frequently as long as three decades after an initial workplace exposure to asbestos. Family members of asbestos workers can develop the disease from mere household exposure and even persons simply living in the vicinity of an asbestos mining facility are at risk.

The fibers of asbestos, when inhaled into the lungs, may become permanently lodged there, although the majority is exhaled out. Such lodged fibers can build up over time and cause inflammation and scarring in the lungs. These injuries can ultimately interfere with a person's ability to breathe.

But even after learning about the exposure and taking steps to avoid the dangerous environment, the detrimental impact of asbestos exposure on an individual's health may continue to worsen even when there is no new or ongoing exposure.

Losing a loved one to an asbestos-related disease is devastating. Often the process is slow and family members have to watch as their loved one suffers. If the exposure was the result of someone else's negligence, the victim's family can take steps to hold that individual or organization responsible.

For more information about asbestos exposure and its effect on health, visit the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry here.

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