While, nowadays, just about every employer in America recognizes the risks associated with asbestos exposure, this was not always the case. Until the 1980s, asbestos was common in a wide range of construction, shipbuilding and related industries. It was also frequently a strengthening component used in roofing, fireproofing and insulation, among other products and efforts.
When you undergo prolonged exposure to asbestos because of the way you make your living, you run the risk of developing a serious, even potentially deadly, asbestos-related illness.
Health hazards of asbestos exposure
Just what types of health issues are common following prolonged exposure to asbestos? For starters, it is a known carcinogen, meaning that it is a proven cancer-causing substance. Evidence shows a connection between asbestos exposure and mesothelioma, which is cancer that affects the lining of the chest and abdomen. Evidence also indicates that a link exists between prolonged exposure to asbestos and the development of other types of cancer, including stomach and colorectal cancers.
While cancer is a serious risk associated with asbestos exposure, it is not the only health condition that may arise because of it. If, for example, you regularly breathe in asbestos fibers in your place of business, you run the risk of developing scars or inflammation in your lungs. You may, too, develop a condition called asbestosis, which can lead to coughing, shortness of breath and, in particularly severe cases, permanent lung damage.
Those who face the most significant risk
While construction workers, roofers and those in similar roles may undergo asbestos exposure because of their line of work, you may also face a heightened risk of exposure and related health complications if you make your living in the automotive industry or as a firefighter. Demolition workers and drywall professionals may face an elevated risk of developing mesothelioma or another asbestos-related health complications.
Ultimately, a number of different factors may impact your chances of developing health complications due to asbestos exposure, including the duration, source and extent of the exposure.