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Austin Asbestos Injury Lawyer

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral fiber that’s both strong and fire retardant, which makes it an ideal additive for construction materials. It’s also used in some automotive parts, fabrics, coatings, and other products.

While asbestos is known to cause cancer in humans, it’s usually not harmful unless it’s released into the air. That may occur when materials containing asbestos are cut or broken or are deteriorating. Airborne asbestos fibers can be become trapped in the lungs, causing scarring, inflammation and, sometimes, chronic and fatal illness.

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Usually, only people who are exposed to asbestos over a long period of time develop an asbestos-related illness. However, one study found that some people who had been exposed to asbestos for only a few days later developed a serious and rare asbestos-related cancer. Asbestos is used far less commonly in the manufacture of materials today than decades ago, so asbestos-related illness is more likely to occur in older people who previously worked in manufacturing and construction.

If you have lung cancer or a serious lung disease and believe asbestos exposure may be to blame, you might be entitled to compensation. Contact the Evans & Herlihy Law Firm to request your free case consultation: 1-855-414-1012.

Symptoms of Asbestos-related Illness

The National Cancer Institute says that anyone who has been exposed to asbestos, or had a risk of exposure, should tell their doctor. That’s because it can be years or decades before symptoms of illness begin, and some symptoms could be easily attributed to a wide range of illnesses.

Doctors who are aware of their patients’ exposure to asbestos can monitor patients for signs of illness, including:

  • Shortness of breath, wheezing, or hoarseness
  • Persistent coughing that gets worse over time
  • Pain or tightening in the chest
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Swelling of the neck or face
  • Appetite loss or weight loss
  • Fatigue or anemia.

Any of those symptoms could indicate a person is suffering from one of these major asbestos-related illnesses:

  • Mesothelioma (a rare malignant cancer of the thin membranes that line the chest and abdomen)
  • Asbestosis (an inflammatory condition that can cause shortness of breath, coughing, and lung damage)
  • Other conditions affecting lungs and pleura (the membranes surrounding lungs).

The American Cancer Society says that from the date a person is diagnosed with mesothelioma, survival times range from an average of 12 months for people with the most advanced form of the disease to 21 months for those with the earliest stage of the disease. There is no cure, but treatment may prolong life expectancy.

Workers at Risk

One study of 122 workers who had been diagnosed with mesothelioma found that people working in construction and shipbuilding have the highest risk of disease. Of the 43 shipbuilding workers who had the disease, 11 were unskilled laborers and nine were machinists. In the construction industry, carpenters/joiners had the highest incidence of illness – they accounted for 15 of the 31 workers with mesothelioma.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires most businesses involved in construction, demolition, and shipbuilding to conduct regular tests of air quality to monitor for the presence of asbestos. Yet, many companies skirt that rule, putting their workers at grave risk of illness.

In November 2015, OSHA fined three Texas real estate renovation companies – all owned by the same man – for willfully exposing workers to asbestos. The owner of those companies received additional OSHA citations the following year for failing to warn construction workers about the presence of asbestos.

OSHA fined a Brownsville company in 2013 for several safety violations, four of which were related to asbestos: failure to select appropriate respirators for workers; failure to provide appropriate protective clothing and equipment; failure to assess asbestos exposure; and failure to use proper methods for cleaning asbestos materials.

Often, fines for employers who violate asbestos rules have no measurable impact on their profitability. They pay the fines, move on, and frequently continue to show a lack of concern for workers’ safety. Employees may be unaware they’re being exposed to dangerous levels of asbestos, and unaware that, years later, they could suffer from serious and fatal asbestos-related illness.

Standing up for Workers

The Evans & Herlihy Law Firm believes employers who are negligent about protecting workers from asbestos exposure should be held accountable. If you have developed an illness that you believe is related to occupational asbestos exposure, you could be entitled to compensation. Contact our office today online or at 1-855-414-1012 to request your free, no-obligation case consultation.