Which type of workers are most at risk for mesothelioma?

If you turn on the television today, it doesn't take long before you hear a commercial about the adverse effects exposure to asbestos can have on your health. Thousands of Americans worked with the naturally-occurring material leading up to it being banned in the 1970s by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). With a long incubation period, it's only now that they're finally showing signs of illness from their earlier exposure.

Many workers, currently showing signs of illness, were exposed to the asbestos in the workplace some 40-plus years ago. Others will inevitably face health implications down the road as they continue to be exposed to it while working on older homes or with materials that aren't yet banned.

Once exposed to asbestos, it can take individuals years to develop symptoms related to their earlier exposure. Some may become afflicted with asbestosis, a chronic type of lung disorder that causes labored breathing associated with scarred lung tissues. This condition often takes 10 years to develop in its victims. If left untreated, this condition may worsen, resulting in a cancer diagnosis.

In other cases, patients may receive little warning of a more aggressive type of cancer, named mesothelioma, lingering in their body. Although it affects only 3,000 people per year, when diagnosed, it's already caused irreparable damage to either their abdomen, lungs or both.

Researchers point out that that mesothelioma is most often seen in patients age 60 or older. It's most common in former plumbers, naval shipyard or construction workers, and those who previously held manufacturing roles.

Many of those diagnosed with mesothelioma were exposed to asbestos while handling building materials such as pipe insulation and flooring felt that were commonly manufactured using the mineral back then. Others continue to be exposed to the harmful substance as they work on homes that were constructed before the mineral was banned from use.

Future generations will be exposed to asbestos as long as the mineral is still allowed to be used to manufacture different products ranging from window caulk to brake liners.

If you believe that your prior work in manufacturing or construction may have led to your mesothelioma diagnosis, then a Dauphin, Pennsylvania, workers' compensation attorney can provide guidance in your case.

Source: U.S. News and World Report, "Asbestos dangers are still lurking," Michael Schoeder, accessed Dec. 27, 2017

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