Scientists, doctors and public health professionals have long decried the potential dangers of asbestos exposure. Indeed, if you work with or near asbestos, you might have an increased likelihood of developing life-threatening diseases, such as asbestosis and certain types of cancer.
By itself, though, asbestos is neither dangerous nor harmful. That is, for asbestos to become hazardous to your health, someone or something must disturb it. When this happens, asbestos fibers and dust pose an extreme risk to your health.
The nature of asbestos
Because asbestos has a notorious reputation, you may think evil scientists make it in a dark lab somewhere. That is not true, however. In fact, asbestos is a silicate material that occurs naturally. With its impressive insulation and fire-retardant properties, asbestos routinely appears in concrete, plumbing fixtures, filters and other common products.
The problem with asbestos fibers
Asbestos has countless tiny filaments that can break apart easily. Specifically, physical contact with asbestos can cause it to break down, potentially filling the air with tiny fibers and dust. These particulates are small enough for you to inhale without noticing. According to the Mayo Clinic, they also can embed themselves in the narrow airways inside your lungs, making it impossible for you to exhale them.
The pervasiveness of asbestos
Because of its bad reputation, many manufacturers have stopped putting asbestos in the products they sell. Still, a considerable amount of asbestos remains, and some manufacturers continue to use it in their products. Simply put, it may be impossible to avoid asbestos, especially if you work in certain industries.
Ultimately, if you have asbestos fibers in your lungs and develop a catastrophic illness, you may be eligible for substantial financial compensation.