Throughout the history of the world, people have been mining and using asbestos for its fire-resistant properties. In the latter part of the 19th century, the mining, manufacturing and use of asbestos exploded across the world. Unfortunately, so did its harmful health effects. Despite this, the asbestos industry continued to thrive, reaching its peak in the mid-1970s. At this point, its use began to decline as the world finally understood the substance’s potential for harm to living beings.
Because asbestos is comprised of fibers that may break down into dust-like particles, the substance leads to many health problems. Arguably, the most serious of these problems is mesothelioma, a cancerous asbestos-related illness. These illnesses occur when asbestos fibers are inhaled, becoming trapped in the lungs where they remain for a very long time.
If a person continues to remain exposed to asbestos, these fibers can accumulate over time and cause inflammation and scarring, often leading to mesothelioma and asbestos-related illness. While many of those affected by asbestos are exposed on-the-job, reports exist of people who live near asbestos mines also becoming ill.
Today, the use of asbestos in Illinois and across the country is regulated by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), but harmful exposure can still occur. Those who live or work near saturated areas should watch for symptoms of mesothelioma/asbestos-related illness. Some of these symptoms are:
- Worsening persistent cough
- Blood in sputum
- Chest pain and tightening
- Swelling of the face and neck
- Difficulty swallowing
- Anemia and fatigue
If you or a loved one is ill because of exposure to asbestos, you have rights under the law. Your best course of action is to contact an attorney to discuss the possibility of asbestos litigation.
Source: National Cancer Institute, “Asbestos Exposure and Cancer Risk,” accessed Aug. 2, 2017