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Can a one-time exposure to asbestos cause illness?


Asbestos is a naturally-occurring substance that was used in many U.S. products including tiles, insulation, automotive products, talcum powder and potting soil. It is now strictly regulated because of its causal link to diseases such as asbestosis and mesothelioma. Asbestos-related illnesses typically take many years to develop, therefore people exposed decades ago are just now being diagnosed and coming forward with wrongful death claims.

It is generally accepted that one will not become a victim of asbestosis from a one-time exposure. However, whether a person will become ill from short-term exposure to asbestos depends upon several factors, such as the amount and duration of exposure, whether the person smokes and how old the person is.

The longer one is exposed to asbestos and the more asbestos fibers that enter a person's body, the more likely a person is to develop a fatal asbestos-related disease. Those who smoke cigarettes are more likely to develop lung cancer when exposed to asbestos than those who do not smoke, therefore it is recommended that smokers quit to reduce their chances of developing a disease. Also, the younger the person who suffered exposure, the more likely they are to develop mesothelioma.

Most people develop asbestos-related diseases due to constant exposure in the workplace. Asbestos fibers cannot be broken down by the body and therefore remain in the lungs or body tissues, often not causing the person to experience any symptoms until decades after their initial exposure. Family members of the exposed worker may also be diagnosed after years of second-hand exposure to asbestos dust on the worker's clothing. Therefore, although it is more likely that continued, high-levels of asbestos exposure will cause illness, those exposed to asbestos even one time should continually monitor their health for any early-stage symptoms of mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases.

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