Humans find incredible and ingenious ways to use natural resources for all kinds of industrial or commercial purposes. Asbestos has long been a natural resource used in a variety of industries ranging from home construction to shipbuilding due to its insulating properties and ability to slow the spread of fire. Asbestos occurs naturally in mineral deposits that humans can mine, process and use for various industrial purposes.
Companies have made products ranging from insulation to brake pads using asbestos, which means that workers in fields ranging from the Navy to vehicle maintenance and environmental remediation could be at risk of exposure to this dangerous substance.
Unfortunately, while humans have found many ways to use asbestos, exposure to asbestos, especially particulate dust that people inhale, can have significant health consequences for workers. Although there were at one time limits on exposure levels, federal work safety rules now make it clear that there is no safe level of asbestos exposure.
The complicated issue of asbestos exposure at work
Asbestos is a known carcinogen that can cause a cancer of the organ linings known as mesothelioma that is both aggressive and deadly. Beyond that, it can cause other kinds of irritation or conditions that affect the respiratory tract, and some research indicates that exposure in other ways could potentially lead to other kinds of cancer.
Unfortunately, mesothelioma, in particular, is a slow-growing cancer that often takes two decades or longer after workplace exposure to fully develop and begin presenting symptoms. Workers may have already retired before they find out that their job resulted in a potentially terminal illness, or the company that they worked for may no longer be in business.
Workers’ compensation and other benefits may be available to those exposed to asbestos
Developing mesothelioma after handling asbestos as part of your job would likely make it possible for you to seek workers’ compensation benefits that cover your medical costs and lost wages if you are still part of the workforce.
If your employer is no longer in business, you may need to explore other options for seeking compensation. The sooner you begin exploring your rights and options, the better the chance that you can connect with compensation that can help you cover the cost of treatment and the financial impact of your condition on your life.