Once widely used in the construction of homes, ships, vehicles and household goods, research shows that asbestos can cause devastating health conditions such as cancer. Despite regulations limiting the use of asbestos, its enduring presence can threaten the lives of those working in specific industries.
Workers commonly exposed to asbestos
Regulations have caused asbestos exposure to decline, but those who must interact with the substance at work are still at significant risk. Disturbing asbestos deposits can trigger the release of microscopic asbestos fibers into the air, which can harm the body if inhaled.
Many older residential homes, commercial and industrial buildings, equipment and vehicles still have traces of the substance. As a result, those working in the following occupations may come into contact with asbestos:
- Construction workers
- Military servicemembers
- Shipyard workers
- Auto technicians and mechanics
Moreover, without using safety precautions, workers can also bring asbestos home and put their family members at risk.
The dangers of occupational exposure to asbestos
Asbestos fibers can stay airborne for 48 to 72 hours. They are so tiny that they can travel into a person’s lungs, settle, build up and start causing damage. When these fibers go deep enough, they can be impossible to remove.
A high concentration of asbestos fibers may result in asbestosis. As a known carcinogen, asbestos may also lead to cancer of the lungs, ovaries, larynx and colon, in addition to mesothelioma. Treatment may require surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
Symptoms of asbestos damage can take 10 to 40 years before they appear, and many resemble those of other diseases, making early detection a challenge. Most people are unaware of their conditions until they have reached an advanced stage.
Staying away from the substance is already difficult for most people. Those who work with asbestos-containing sites or products have a higher risk due to regular exposure. It is crucial that those who develop severe health conditions due to their jobs seek a doctor right away and review if they qualify for workers’ compensation.