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What are the risks of working around asbestos?

For decades, it has been widely-known that asbestos can cause life-threatening illnesses and diseases. Asbestos is made up of minerals that can be used in several industries. The danger occurs when asbestos is disturbed or degrades and tiny particles are released into the atmosphere. Before this knowledge became widespread, many people suffered or perished due to asbestos exposure in the workplace as well as in buildings or homes containing asbestos.

Fortunately, these illnesses and deaths have taught employers and organizations like Occupational Safety and Health Administration many lessons about the substance. It is now possible to work around asbestos if absolutely necessary by following strict safety guidelines at all times. However, it is still important to understand fully the hazards associated with this dangerous material before performing any work with or near asbestos.

Here are some of the most significant dangers asbestos can present to North Carolina workers.

-- Inhaled asbestos fibers present in the lungs for extended periods can scar lung tissue and cause respiratory problems-- According to Department of Health and Human Services, asbestos can increase the risks of contracting mesothelioma and lung cancer-- Some studies show a link between exposure to asbestos and colorectal or gastrointestinal cancers-- Asbestos exposure increases the risk of asbestosis, an inflammatory illness of the lungs that can result in shortness of breath, permanent lung damage and coughing

If you are considering employment that may expose you to asbestos, it is crucial to make sure you receive proper training and that the work conforms to OSHA's asbestos standards. If you believe you have already been injured by asbestos in your job, consider consulting with an attorney as soon as possible.

Source: National Cancer Institute, "Asbestos Exposure and Cancer Risk," accessed June 22, 2015

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