Asbestos is a group of six minerals that have proven highly fire-resistant. Due to this property, asbestos was long-valued in the construction industry and used as part of many building materials. For instance, asbestos was once used in ceilings, siding, insulation, drywall, roofing, and more. Unfortunately, when asbestos and asbestos-containing materials age and dry out, or when they’re disturbed, this mineral releases micro-fine particulates that can be breathed in or swallowed.
These carcinogenic fibers cannot be removed from the body, and they typically settle into internal tissues and cause scarring and other problems. They are responsible for mesothelioma and other asbestos-related cancers, including cancers of the larynx, stomach, and ovaries. Worse still, noticeable symptoms of asbestos-related illness may not manifest until one to two decades have passed.
How long after asbestos exposure will symptoms arise?
The magnitude of asbestos exposure often determines the severity of any resulting disease and its symptoms. When asbestos is breathed in and tiny particulates enter the airways, people may begin exhibiting symptoms such as difficulty breathing and chest pain within just one to two months. When asbestos is swallowed and the stomach lining is affected, or when asbestos-containing talcum powders are used on various body areas, it may be that no signs of illness present for 10 to 20 years.
When they do present, many early symptoms of asbestos-related illness can be mistaken for other, far less serious ailments. This makes issues such as asbestosis, mesothelioma, and various types of cancer difficult to diagnose in their earliest stages. Moreover, it also means that many asbestos and mesothelioma claims are submitted long after the exposure that has caused them.
The difference between short-duration exposure and long-duration exposure.
A person who merely passes through an asbestos-containing structure will only have short-duration exposure. Conversely, someone working in an asbestos-contaminated warehouse, shipyard, or manufacturing facility might be exposed to particulates every day. This type of frequent, long-duration exposure typically leads to more severe illness and a more rapid presentation of symptoms.
The dangers of building with asbestos-containing materials are fully known. In the course of fulfilling their duty of care, building owners have the responsibility to identify, test, and remove asbestos that may be in danger of degrading, and causing serious or even fatal illness. When they do not take these measures, they can be held financially liable for the damages that their negligence causes.