Every year around 5000 workers are killed by asbestos – that’s around 20 per week; usually trades-people who have dealt with asbestos over years of their career. Asbestos is no longer used in building, but can be present in any building built or refurbished before the year 2000. The damage is caused when asbestos fibres are released in to the air; these tiny fibres can get into the lungs where they can cause serious diseases. In most cases the damage does not affect you immediately, but leads to long-term lung damage and diseases that are untreatable by the time they are identified.
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that develops in the Mesothelium; a layer of cells which forms the lining to the lungs and also the abdomen. When the cancer is within the chest area it is called Pleural Mesothelioma, whereas in the abdomen it is known as Peritoneal Mesothelioma. Around 75% of cases involve the lungs and many cases have been linked to the previous inhalation of asbestos dust and fibres. Sadly, due to a lack of early symptoms, in many cases Mesothelioma is not diagnosed until it is past potential treatment.
Asbestos-related lung cancer
Lung cancer can be caused by many different factors, particularly smoking, but breathing in the dust or fibres from asbestos can be just as dangerous. If the fibres that are inhaled are not small enough to pass through into the lining of the lung (the mesothelium) then they are likely to remain on the surface of the lung, potentially increasing the chance of developing enough irritation and cellular damage to the lung to generate cancerous tumour formation.
Another asbestos related lung disease is related to scarring of the pleura; the thin membrane that covers the lungs. If the pleura is damaged, it forms scars which are less flexible and thicker than the usual lining. This can make it more difficult to breathe, and can also cause chest pain. It can also cause restrictive lung disease that prevents the lung from fully expanding.
Asbestosis is a chronic lung condition that is caused directly by prolonged exposure to asbestos. Like the conditions above, it is often difficult to diagnose in its early stages, and once it has progressed, is very difficult to treat successfully. It commonly precedes or leads to conditions such as lung cancer and Mesothelioma.
What to do if you have been exposed to Asbestos?
The first person to speak to would be your doctor who will be able to advise you on the best course of action to take medically. Your next priority should be to contact one of our specialist solicitors who will be able to talk you through the claims process and see if you are entitled to make a claim for compensation. We have years of experience in dealing with these types of cases and will swiftly be able to help you.