Asbestos diseases

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Asbestos is a fibrous material that has been used in a variety of industries throughout the United Kingdom. The importing of asbestos was banned in the United kingdom in 1999. Asbestos was used to make building materials more rigid and fire resistant. There are three main types of asbestos, brown (amosite), blue (crocidolite) and white (chrysotile). It has been commercially mined since the Industrial Revolution. Asbestos was nicknamed “the magic mineral” because it could be put to so many uses, so you could see it in floor tiles, sewage pipes, textured coatings such as Artex, insulating boards and road signs to name a few. It is a fairly indestructible product and thus can resist decay. It is believed that asbestos has been used in most school buildings and other public buildings, especially in the walls, ceilings and fire doors.

 

How does Asbestos harm you?

  • Asbestos fibres are inahled into the lungs
  • Fibres so fine that they penetrate deep into the smallest airways of lungs
  • Once the fibres are  in the lung, the body’s defense mechanism tries to break them down to remove them.
  • Inflammations develop as each fibre is seen as a foreign body.
  • Once fibres in the body they can move around to other parts of the body.
  • Fibres can penetrate skin and cause irritation and reddening.
  • Fibres can be swallowed and then these could stick in the intestinal tract and move into the lining of the abdomen.
  • Asbestos related diseases develop – could be 10-50 years after initial  exposure.

The Diseases

Asbestosis

A scarring of the lungs due to heavy exposure to asbestos dust. It restricts lung function causing breathlessness. This condition develops slowly and will adversely affect the victim over a number of years.

Pleural Plaques

Minor scarring of the lung ( the pleura) causing raised areas  which can be detected by x-ray. They do not necessarily cause pain but do confirm exposure to asbestos.  Unfortunately, people diagnosed with this condition who are in England or Wales are not entitled to claim compensation but those in Northern Ireland and Scotland can. There is continued pressure on the government to change this situation for England and Wales.

Pleural Thickening

Thickening of the lung walls which can cause breathlessness and disability.

Mesothelioma

A form of cancer which can affect the pleura (the lining) of the lung , chest wall or abdomen. This is a malignant cancer and almost all cases of mesothelioma are related to exposure to asbestos. If you have been diagnosed with this condition you may be entitled to claim compensation from an employer.

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer can develop as a result of  exposure to asbestos. This risk is heightened if the victim is also a cigarette smoker.