January 4, 2017

The effects of Asbestos

We’ve all heard about the risks of asbestos exposure. Asbestos has been a warning word when shopping for new homes, living in an older home, and in the workplace. Since modern structures do not contain asbestos, you may be confused as to exactly what the risks are. Our personal injury lawyers in Florida can tell you the dangerous risks.

Asbestos was once a commonly used material in construction, shipbuilding, and manufacturing industries. Unfortunately, over time it was found that asbestos exposure can be seriously damaging and even life-threatening. Prolonged exposure can result in serious illness. Therefore, it is incredibly important that we all understand the effects of asbestos in order to understand the gravity of living in an asbestos-ridden building.


Cancer is one of the most serious results of asbestos exposure. Over time, the inhalation of asbestos has been directly linked to certain types of cancer. These include mesothelioma, commonly known as asbestos cancer, and lung cancer.  Mesothelioma is a rare and asbestos-related cancer.  The cancer forms in the tissues that cover the lungs and abdomen.

Lung cancer, although it has many possible causes, can also be caused by asbestos exposure.  There are also some cancers that are less commonly linked to asbestos exposure, like ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer was linked to asbestos exposure when fibers were repeatedly found in the ovaries of asbestos-exposed women. Laryngeal cancer is another less commonly-linked cancer.


Asbestosis is a type of chronic lung disease. The disease, unfortunately, has no cure and occurs when scarring of the lung tissues lead to long-term breathing complications. It is caused by long-term asbestos inhalation and has been linked to chrysotile fibers which are a common type of asbestos. Asbestosis doesn’t occur for 10-40 years after initial inhalation

Symptoms of this disease include shortness of breath, a persistent dry cough, chest tightness and pain, loss of appetite, weight loss, and fingertips and toes appearing rounder and wider than normal (referred to as clubbing). Asbestosis increases the chances of developing from lung cancer.


COPD, or Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is a lung disease that is classified by chronic bronchitis or emphysema. It can be caused by environmental toxins such as asbestos. It begins when patients have difficulty breathing, and over time the symptoms continue to worsen.

COPD is treatable, and those suffering from it are usually able to control symptoms and maintain a reasonably high quality of life. They are also likely to experience episodes called exacerbations, during which symptoms become worse than usual, and persist for several days or more.

Pleural Effusions

Pleural effusions are fluid buildups between the pleural layers of your lungs. While they are most often classified as a symptom of late-stage mesothelioma, they can also occur on their own. Long-term, they can cause severe pain or labored breathing.  These can also recur after treatment.

Much like the other effects of asbestos on the body, symptoms of pleural effusions include shortness of breath, chest pain (especially when taking deep breaths, fever, and coughing. Pleural effusions are treated a variety of ways, depending on the symptoms experienced.

Pleural Plaques

These are calcium build ups on the pleural layers and are not considered to be serious in comparison with the other side effects of being exposed to asbestos.  They can often cause painful breathing, especially if they become thick. Asbestos exposure can be serious and damaging. These common consequences of asbestos exposure illustrate how seriously it can affect your health, quality of life and lifestyle. 

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