Companies have historically used asbestosis for dozens of commercial applications. Asbestos is a fire retardant and an excellent insulator. It has served purposes in everything from vehicle brakes and navy ships to insulation. That means workers across a broad range of industries could have work-related exposure to asbestos and to the serious medical complications it can create.
Given that many people exposed to asbestos go decades before they have symptoms of possibly fatal conditions like mesothelioma, those who show symptoms early on of less-dangerous conditions like asbestosis may feel fortunate. Sadly, asbestosis has some medical correlation with later cancer issues.
What is asbestosis?
Asbestosis is a disease of the lungs that develops because an individual inhales asbestos fibers. Over time, inhaled particles of asbestos may lead to scarring of the lung tissue. Asbestos fibers become lodged in the sections of the lungs and irritate them, a process which then leads to scar tissue because of the irritation the asbestos causes. That scar tissue can lead to difficulty breathing because it will reduce the flexibility of the lungs and a person’s ability to easily inhale and exhale.
Those with asbestosis are more likely than others to develop lung cancer
When compared with the general population, workers who have already developed asbestosis because of workplace asbestos exposure are more likely to develop lung cancer. Those already in the subset of the population that smoke tobacco products have an even higher risk than others.
However, just because personal decisions like tobacco consumption may have elevated your risk does not mean that you lose out on your right to compensation because of a work-acquired disease like asbestosis or lung cancer.