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Frequently Asked Questions About Asbestos Exposure and Mesothelioma

Below are answers to common questions about asbestos-caused diseases. These answers are for informational purposes only. Sometimes, exceptions apply. Please rely on your own attorney to determine whether an exception applies to your case. Only by consulting an experienced mesothelioma lawyer can you be sure your rights are fully protected.

How is asbestos used?

Since the late 19th century, asbestos has been used in hundreds of products and applications, including cement building materials, reinforcement in asbestos-cement products, brakes and clutches, water and sewage pipes, sprayed fire-proofing products, fire-resistant insulation boards, floor tiles and coverings, gas masks, lifts, and machinery. Boilers and pipes were insulated with asbestos products in factories, steel plants, and power stations, and also in hospitals, schools, and homes. Shipbuilding facilities and railroads relied on asbestos as a primary insulator. Building contractors used asbestos in industrial and domestic construction for acoustic and thermal insulation, condensation protection, and fireproofing. Home appliances such as irons and toasters have used asbestos insulation.

How does asbestos cause cancer?

In the course of mining, manufacturing, and installing asbestos products, tiny asbestos fibers become airborne. Most inhaled fibers are cleared from the lungs within hours of inhalation. The inhaled asbestos fibers that are not expelled stay in the lungs, moving toward the lower regions of the lungs and progressing into the alveoli, the tiny pockets within the lung where oxygen passes into the bloodstream. Once asbestos fibers reach the alveoli, they remain for years. Asbestos fibers that remain embedded in the lungs can irritate the tissue and cause changes in the way cells reproduce. These changes can lead to serious and often fatal diseases.

What is asbestosis?

Asbestosis is a progressive disease of the lungs caused by inhaling asbestos fibers that cause scar-like tissue in the lungs and in the pleural membrane that surrounds the lungs. The scar tissue is thicker and less flexible than normal lung tissue and cannot expand and contract as easily. Breathing becomes more difficult and painful for the affected person. The scar tissue makes it harder for oxygen to penetrate into the alveoli, the tiny sacs in the lung where oxygen exchange takes place. Asbestosis victims make a characteristic crackling sound when they inhale. Asbestosis also causes a chronic shortness of breath and fatigue, so that many asbestosis victims require constant oxygen. There is no treatment that can reverse asbestosis.

How can asbestos exposure cause lung cancer?

The largest number of asbestos-related deaths occurs from lung cancer. Most lung cancer caused by asbestos inhalation starts in the lining of the bronchi, the tubes that lead from the windpipe into each lung. Lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure can also begin in the windpipe itself, the bronchioles, or the alveoli. Lung cancer tends to spread to other organs of the body. Workers with long exposure to asbestos have three to four greater risk of developing lung cancer than workers who have not been exposed to asbestos. Asbestos workers who smoke tobacco increase their risk of lung cancer. Common symptoms include a persistent cough, chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, hoarseness, and anemia.

How long after exposure does it take for mesothelioma to develop?

Mesothelioma grows slowly and silently. For decades, the tumor grows within the body, causing no symptoms. Only when it has grown large enough to press on vital organs, and to leak fluid into the chest or abdominal cavity does the victim begin to experience symptoms such as severe chest pain, shortness of breath, and constant fatigue.

How long can a person live after a mesothelioma diagnosis?

The prognosis for malignant mesothelioma depends greatly on how early in its development the mesothelioma is diagnosed and how aggressively it can be treated. Because of its very slow development, and the absence or mildness of symptoms as it develops, most mesothelioma victims do not seek a diagnosis until their symptoms are more painful and disabling. By the time a diagnosis is established, the disease is usually far advanced.

Am I entitled to compensation for having developed mesothelioma?

Companies that mined and manufactured asbestos products knew for many years that asbestos presented serious health hazards for their workers, yet they conspired to suppress that information, preventing workers from knowing the dangers they faced working with this lethal material. Because of that conspiracy, workers with asbestos-caused cancers have important legal rights to compensation from the companies whose negligence and disregard for their safety has harmed them.

If you believe that your mesothelioma was caused by working with asbestos materials, you should consult an experienced asbestos attorney to learn more about your rights.

Should I consider filing a lawsuit?

This is a question to discuss with an experienced attorney, who can discuss your particular situation, and advise you about your options. You can reach our firm at (619) 238-1811.

How much might my case be worth?

Every lawsuit is different. How much a case is worth depends on a variety of factors, such as:

  • The nature, pain, and severity of your asbestos-related illness,
  • How active you were before you began experiencing symptoms,
  • The costs of medical treatment needed,
  • Whether the illness has caused you to lose income now and in the future,
  • Physical and/or emotional suffering you and your family have experienced because of your asbestos-related illness, and more.

These and other factors will help determine the value of your case. An experienced asbestos attorney can review the circumstances of your case to determine what your claim may be worth. You can reach CaseyGerry by calling (619) 238-1811.

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