Tobacco use is dangerous, and the younger generations have grown up with access to information about how tobacco damages the lungs and increases the risk of certain diseases. Many people struggling with dependence on nicotine may have started smoking before they knew the health risks. In fact, they may have stopped smoking years ago, but after the tobacco had already caused issues.
Younger professionals also benefit from improved workplace safety standards compared to what companies offered years ago. Those who work with asbestos can expect safety gear and proper training to protect them from medical risks, which wasn’t always the case years ago.
Asbestos can cause some of the same medical issues that smoking may cause, which can confuse people dealing with these medical issues. Individuals who may have a right to file a benefits claim because of exposure at work to asbestos years ago may fail to connect their condition with their job and will instead blame their smoking.
Asbestos exposure will increase your existing risks
Some people realize that lung cancer can come from asbestos, not just from tobacco use. Fewer people realize that another major pulmonary issue may have its roots in earlier workplace asbestos exposure. Asbestos exposure on the job can cause chronic symptoms and may lead to several different conditions, not just cancer.
When someone has long-term or potentially permanent respiratory issues, a doctor may diagnose them with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Emphysema is an example of a disease that falls under the umbrella of COPD. Although most people associate COPD with tobacco use, there is a growing body of medical evidence connecting a vast assortment of pulmonary issues with asbestos exposure at work.
Employees who had exposure to asbestos may have a particularly high risk of developing COPD or lung cancer later in life.
Your workplace exposure may lead to compensation
Given that the asbestos exposure you had at work likely contributed to your development of respiratory issues or their severity, you may have grounds for a compensation claim even if you also made choices in your personal life, like the decision to smoke, that increased your personal risk. The longer you had workplace exposure to asbestos, the stronger your claim may be after your diagnosis with COPD.
Recognizing your respiratory issue as an asbestos-related disease may be the first step toward getting appropriate compensation for your medical issues.