Asbestos exposure at a job site is a major health problem. Your chance of getting an asbestos-related disease increases with certain risk factors. The first risk factor is how much asbestos was in the air you breathed or the “concentration.” The second risk factor is the cumulative length of all exposures or “duration.” The third is “proximity”, or how close you are to the exposure source.  The asbestos disease risk factors of concentration, duration, and proximity establish a person’s “dose.”

Asbestos diseases follow a “dose-response” relationship curve. This means that the more asbestos you inhale (dose), the greater your risk of contracting an asbestos-related disease.

Generally, your risk of getting disease increases with each dose. For example, if a person worked around asbestos for 5 years and someone else worked in the same job for 15 years and had an equal concentration and proximity of exposure, the person with 15 years of asbestos exposure has a higher cumulative dose and therefore in general a higher risk of getting disease. However due to individual susceptibility, either, neither, or both may develop disease from that exposure. Cigarette smoking is another factor that increases susceptibility to lung cancer.  Asbestos fiber type is yet another factor that can increase the risk for mesothelioma.  While all fiber types cause disease, crocidolite has a greater potency for causing mesothelioma than amosite and chrysotile.

Latency Period for Asbestos Disease

If you do develop an asbestos-related disease, you will probably not show any symptoms until many years after you have been first exposed. The time from first exposure to the discovery of illness (symptoms like shortness of breath, chest pain, and chronic fatigue) is called the latency period.

The shortest latency period for clinical asbestos disease is about 5 years, although often it takes 50 or more years from first exposure before the disease is diagnosed. There is no maximum latency or time when the risk of developing asbestos-related disease disappears. Also, there is no “safe” level of exposure to asbestos; even minimal levels may cause asbestos disease.

Occupations Posing Asbestos Dangers

Workers in the building, constructionshipbuildingrailroad, and automotive industries who have been exposed to asbestos are at particularly high risk for developing asbestos diseases such as asbestosis, asbestos pleural disease, mesothelioma, and lung cancer. Any exposure to asbestos increases a person’s chance of contracting mesothelioma.

Even family members of workers exposed to asbestos face an increased risk of developing mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases due to contact with asbestos dust brought into the home on the workers’ shoes, clothing, skin, or hair. This phenomenon has been studied extensively by Irving J. Selikoff, M.D. of the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York, who reported increased disease levels among families of asbestos factory workers in the 1970s.

Sadly, potential exposure to asbestos does not end at the workplace or the worker’s home. It also occurs in schoolshomes, and public buildings when asbestos products have fallen into disrepair or become damaged. For example, asbestos insulation around pipes may deteriorate, allowing deadly dust to enter the air. Asbestos in ceiling tiles and numerous other building materials may become damaged when disturbed or repaired.

Asbestos has been a part of many consumer products, exposing consumers and repairmen to asbestos hazards. See Asbestos Consumer Products for more details.

Discuss Workplace Asbestos Exposure Risks with a Seasoned Attorney

To learn more about workplace asbestos exposure risks and your legal options after exposure, contact our office today. A dedicated legal professional could walk you through your potential compensation options and help you pursue the payments you need to make things right.