Until its use was banned some years ago Asbestos was used widely in many forms in a variety of industries in particular the building, plumbing and heating industries, and its widespread use means that a huge number of people have potentially been exposed either directly or indirectly to it. This means that many thousands of people may have been exposed to this deadly material over the years.
Exposure to asbestos dust and fibres is not something that is confined to industrial workers nor is it a thing of the past.
It is known that over 75% of state schools in Britain contain asbestos. This means it is possible that pupils, teachers and other staff in those schools are still at risk of being exposed to this deadly material.
In most cases it usually take between 15 to 45 years to appear after exposure occurred for signs of an asbestos related condition to develop.
So, what are the asbestos related illnesses that can be developed and how do I “catch an asbestos related illness?
There are 5 recognised asbestos related illnesses. They are:
- Pleural Plaques
- Diffuse Pleural Thickening
- Asbestos related lung cancer
However, you can only recover compensation if you are diagnosed with pleural thickening, asbestosis, asbestos related lung cancer or mesothelioma. Unfortunately some years ago it was decided that Pleural plaques was not actionable as it does not cause any obvious symptoms.
To develop an asbestos related illness you are likely to have worked with or in close proximity to significant amounts of asbestos dust and fibres or been exposed to significant amount of asbestos. This will have led to you breathing in or sometimes swallowing asbestos dust and fibres. However, it is also possible to be exposed to asbestos if a family member has worked with asbestos and you have washed or handled that family member’s work clothing on a regular basis, this is known as secondary exposure.
How do I know if I have an asbestos related illness? Although far from complete symptoms may include, a cough and shortages of breath.
The most serious asbestos related condition is a type of cancer known as Mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is a cancer that affects the lining of the lung and also in very rare cases the lining of the abdomen. In the majority of cases once this type of cancer has been diagnosed, life expectancy will often be less than 12 months.
In addition to a cough and shortage of breath mesothelioma can cause sweating tiredness and loss of appetite leading to rapid weight loss. Chest pain is not unusual and the pain is severe. It is not unusual for a mesothelioma suffer to notice a change in their voice is and a swollen abdomen is commonplace.
How is it diagnosed?
Mesothelioma is often difficult to diagnose. In its early stages it rarely shows up on scans or x-rays and often further investigations will be needed before a formal diagnosis is given.
The question then is what should I do if you’ve worked with or come into contact with asbestos and have developed any of the above symptoms?
Most importantly you should make an appointment with your GP and ask that you are referred to the respiratory department at your local hospital as a matter of urgency.
You should also contact us here at Advantage Solicitors without delay so that we can advise you further and establish whether or not you have a valid claim for compensations. If you do we can then take the necessary steps to ensure you recover the maximum amounts of compensation for you and your family.