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What are the risk factors for asbestos-related lung disease?

It is public knowledge in Canton and elsewhere that smoking can cause lung diseases. In fact, even when individuals breathe in second-hand smoke, they are at risk for developing lung cancer. But there are other environments and situations that could increase a person's risk of this disease. Unfortunately, the work environment could pose dangers and risks when it comes to developing this type of workplace illness.

What are the risk factors for asbestos-related lung disease? There are certain industries that place an employee at a higher risk of developing this lung disease. Those who engaged in prolonged periods of mining, making, milling or installing asbestos products prior to the 1970s were at a very high risk for developing asbestos-related lung disease. These workers include miners, aircraft and auto mechanics, construction workers, electricians, shipyard workers, boiler operators, building engineers and railroad workers.

Although asbestos products are not as widely used these days, it is still possible to be exposed to asbestos material in these careers and industries. An employee could suffer pleural effusion, lung cancer, mesothelioma or asbestosis by asbestos exposure. Asbestos fibers are very small. Therefore, employees could easily breathe them in, causing them to get stuck deep within the lungs. Over time, these fibers that remain in the lungs can cause scarring an inflammation. This is what leads to an asbestos-related lung disease.

Suffering from a workplace related illness can be shocking and life-altering. It not only requires a person to undergo much medical treatment but it could also mean not working for an extended period of time. In order to offset these damages, a worker should consider whether they are able to pursue workers' compensation. This could help address financial hardships caused by this illness.

Source: Nhlbi.nih.gov, "Asbestos-Related Lung Diseases," accessed April 15, 2018

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