Asbestosis is a disease caused by exposure to asbestos fibers. When these fibers are present in the air and workers inhale them over time, their lungs can become damaged, resulting in scarring and shortness of breath. Some people have only mild asbestosis symptoms, but others may have a severe case that makes it very hard to breathe and live a normal life.
Symptoms of this chronic lung disease can suddenly occur years after the exposure, making it sometimes difficult to identify where and when the exposure occurred. In today’s workplaces, it’s unlikely for anyone to be exposed to asbestos in high enough quantities to cause this disease. Most cases involve people who were exposed before the 1970s, when the government finally regulated the use of the mineral product.
Treatment of this disease focuses mainly on palliative treatment to make the symptoms less severe. Symptoms of asbestosis may include being short of breath, having a persistent cough, diminished appetite or clubbing of the fingers or toes.
Do all workers have to be concerned about asbestosis? No, especially if the asbestos they were exposed to was contained. The only way to get asbestosis is to inhale the fibers, and federal law dictates that workers take precautions if they are going to be working with asbestos.
As a worker who has suffered an injury, you have a right to know the kinds of compensation to which you may be entitled to pursue. Our website has more information on workplace illnesses and what to do if your life has been negatively affected by a disease like asbestosis.