While most people across Illinois and the rest of the United States are now well aware that asbestos is dangerous, this was not always the case. For decades, the dangers associated with asbestos exposure were unknown, and during this time, asbestos fibers appeared in schools, office buildings, residential buildings and many other locations.
Per the American Cancer Society, the majority of people who undergo exposure to asbestos wind up inhaling the fibers. However, others swallow asbestos fibers. This might happen after drinking water that flows through pipes contaminated with asbestos. It may, too, occur if someone inhales asbestos and later coughs up the fibers before swallowing them.
Asbestos exposure and cancer risks
Studies indicate a link between asbestos exposure and lung cancer. The more an individual faces exposure to asbestos, the greater the chance of that person developing lung cancer as a result. Risks compound even further when the person exposed to asbestos fibers is also a smoker. While asbestos exposure raises the risk of lung cancer, science suggests that it also increases the risk of several other types of cancer, including larynx cancer, ovarian cancer and mesothelioma.
Asbestos exposure and other health risks
Asbestos exposure may also lead to other, non-cancerous health conditions, including asbestosis, which is a lung disease that may develop after someone has prolonged exposure to asbestos fibers. Most people who develop asbestosis experience a chronic cough and difficulty breathing, among related symptoms. Often, these symptoms get progressively worse over time.
Individuals who suspect they may have undergone exposure to high levels of asbestos should speak with their doctors about associated risks.