Asbestos is a mineral fiber that was widely used in construction, manufacturing and industry. Though its use has largely been limited since the 1980’s, many products and buildings utilizing the insulating properties of asbestos are still in use today and may be aerosolized through use, removal or demolition. In addition, those involved in manufacturing, construction and industries which employed large scale use of asbestos are only now seeing the results of acute or chronic asbestos exposure including the development of asbestosis or the much more serious malignant condition of mesothelioma.
Occupational risk factors for the development of asbestos related mesothelioma include being or having been employed in any of the following occupations which utilized asbestos in production of materials or insulation:
- Construction – including both residential and commercial widely used asbestos in materials
- Metal Works – including steel, aluminum, iron workers along with power plant and railroad workers
- Mining – including asbestos mining but also talc, vermiculite and dolomite
- Pipe Fitting – including power plants and oil refineries along with pipe fitting for other high heat processes
- Ship Building – particularly during WWII and Korean War but also including ship crew members who may have been exposed to asbestos in confined conditions
- Factory Work – manufacture of construction materials of all types
- Auto Work – auto manufacturing and repair, particularly brake parts and engine gaskets containing asbestos
- Demolition – including those involved in or near intentional or unintentional demolition of buildings constructed with asbestos, along with asbestos removal projects
Unfortunately for many, mesothelioma may take years to develop and not be recognized as related to work hazards. Symptoms of mesothelioma may include:
- Pleural Mesothelioma – dry raspy cough, coughing up blood, trouble swallowing, fever, night sweats, weight loss, fatigue, painful chest, difficulty breathing, lumps under the skin of the chest
- Peritoneal Mesothelioma – swollen or painful abdomen, changes in bowel habits, nausea orr vomiting, anemia, fatigue, fever or night sweats, weight loss, lumps under abdominal skin
- Pericardial Mesothelioma – heart palpitations, chest pain, trouble breathing, fever or night sweats, fatigue
Anyone who is suffering from symptoms of mesothelioma or other asbestos related disease should seek medical help immediately. The sooner diagnosis is obtained and treatment is started, the better chance for a hopeful outcome. Unfortunately, some may feel the cost of medical treatment is too high and avoid seeking help. In any case of asbestos-related disease, particularly one as serious as mesothelioma, legal advice should be obtained along with medical advice. A consultation with a lawyer will provide the best possibility of getting appropriate treatment as soon as possible and may even save a life
Getting a diagnosis of mesothelioma can be a shocking experience for both the patient and family members alike. Support organizations such as the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation can be a good source of information regarding diagnosis, medical issues and treatment options. Additionally, they may provide comfort and support through the use of chat rooms, message boards and forums which may be of benefit to family members and patients.