Asbestos Related Diseases – What Occupations Are At Risk?
Asbestos related diseases such as pleural plaques, asbestosis, and malignant mesothelioma, occur because the diseases victims have inhaled asbestos fibers. One of the many challenges associated with these diseases is that the victims are often not aware of their medical condition until it is too late.
That’s because, although the asbestos is damaging their bodies, it can take decades before the symptoms of the diseases become apparent.
Virtually everyone in the industrialized world has been exposed to asbestos. There are low levels of asbestos in the water, air, and soil.
Yet, although at some time in their lives most people have been exposed to asbestos, only a relatively small percentage of the population has an asbestos related disease. That’s because these diseases primarily happen to people who are exposed to asbestos fibers on a prolonged, regular, or substantial basis.
For the most part this means that some of the prime candidates for acquiring a disease caused by asbestos are those people who are employed by companies that mill asbestos, mine the raw material, or use, remove, or manufacture products that contain asbestos.
In addition many people who had secondary exposure to asbestos have become victims of asbestos related diseases. Many family members of asbestos workers have already succumbed to these diseases because asbestos fibers were brought home on the workers clothes.
Prior to the incorporation of strict industrial hygiene rules, workers’ families were put at risk because the workers went home covered with asbestos dust. It was in their hair, on their clothes, and on their skin. Their friends and family members inevitably breathed in the dust they brought home with them every day from work.
Secondary exposure doesn’t end there. In addition to workers families, the general population that live around facilities such as factories, power plants, refineries, vermiculite mines, shipyards, and steel mills are exposed to the asbestos that is released into the soil, water, and air around these sites.
Between 1940 and 1979 an estimated 27.5 million people may have been exposed to asbestos while at work. Asbestos related deaths from 1979 through 2000, according to the Environmental Working Group, totaled approximately 230,000.
Many people believe that laws have been initiated in the United States that have banned the use of asbestos in any products manufactured here. This is not the case. For example, asbestos is still heavily used in construction materials. More than 60% of the asbestos products that are manufactured are used in the construction industry.
Therefore, construction workers are still at great risk, as is anyone who is involved in the renovation, repair, maintenance, or removal of asbestos that was installed decades ago. This means that currently more than 1.3 million people in these industries in the United States are at risk. And, unless safety standards are followed, the risk can be quite considerable – and even life threatening.
Even though asbestos related diseases have historically been greater when the exposure was of a longer duration or when people were exposed to significant amounts of the material, these diseases have happened to people after only after they were briefly exposed to asbestos.
In some instances any asbestos exposure is too much.
Talk to a mesothelioma lawyer at http://www.asbestos.net/asbestos-legal-issues/mesothelioma-asbestos-and-other-asbestos-diseases-lawyers-and-attorneys.html Wendy Moyer on behalf of Sokolove Law.
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