Asbestos Exposure: How Much Is Dangerous?

You may have heard of asbestos, that it was a building material used in old construction, and that it was dangerous. Unfortunately, much like lead paint and lead pipes, anywhere asbestos still resides creates a dangerous environment, and it isn’t just in old, condemned buildings. 

We at D’Amico Law Offices have represented asbestos cases in the Rust Belt area (Pennsylvania and West Virginia). Our lawyers advocate for workers and residents who’ve been impacted by asbestos fibers and asbestos cancer, also known as mesothelioma. An aggressive cancer, mesothelioma is uniquely caused by asbestos exposure.

If you have a diagnosis of mesothelioma, or other conditions that may have arisen from exposure to asbestos-containing materials, call us at (412) 652-9300 to discuss your circumstances. Our years of experience investigating asbestos exposure points, and providing proof under the law, may help you and your family seek the resources you need for treatment and justice. 

We have compiled the following information on asbestos exposure, and the levels of danger involved, so that you may better protect yourself and your family.

A demolition worker wears a hard hat and mask to protect against injury and asbestos exposure.

Where Is Asbestos Found?

Asbestos became popular as a building and insulation material in the United States in the 1850s. This is because asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous silicate mineral that is resistant to heat, electricity, and corrosion.

By the 1930s it was clear that asbestos exposure was leading to premature death among workers who mined it. Still today, wherever asbestos resides, a danger to humans and other mammals (like pets) lingers with it.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), here are places where asbestos may still be hiding:

  • Automobile clutches, brake pads, and transmission components
  • Corrugated sheeting
  • Imported or outdated cement pipes
  • Roofing materials and vinyl tile
  • Boilers and heating vessels
  • Electrical wire conduits and electric motor components
  • Roofing products, sealants, and coatings
  • Insulation products and heat-protective pads
  • Corrosive chemical containers
  • Laboratory furniture
  • Pipe coverings and older textiles (including curtains)
  • Vermiculite, a mineral composed of shiny flakes (resembling mica) found in potting soil and home insulation, which may be contaminated with asbestos

New products made in the U.S. after 1975 should not contain any asbestos material, but in older homes, automobiles, buildings, and certain imported products, asbestos could still be present. 

If there is any potential asbestos in your home or a building you frequent, it should not be disturbed, cut through, demolished, or renovated without professional consultation, testing, and proper protective gear.

How Much Exposure to Asbestos Is Dangerous?

There are no safe amounts of asbestos. Like poisonous substances, though a little may not cause long-term harm, even one drop is potentially dangerous, and there is no recommended “safe” amount. 

However, that does not mean if you’ve been in a building where asbestos sits inside the walls, you’re destined to become ill. Short-term or light exposure to asbestos rarely causes disease, mainly because asbestos is most harmful to humans when it’s inhaled or ingested.

Here are examples of high- and low-risk exposures to asbestos:

  • High risk: Construction areas, auto shops, steel and metalwork factories, demolition sites, and building collapses create high potential for asbestos exposure. When the particles of asbestos become airborne, they are easily breathed into the lungs or swallowed along with other dust particles. Once inside the human body, asbestos fibers may embed in the lungs or stomach lining, which may then lead to mesothelioma cancer.
  • Low risk: Asbestos is most hazardous when it’s “friable,” meaning easily crumbled, which releases fibers into the air. Sprayed on asbestos insulation is very dangerous because it is highly friable, but trapped asbestos in floor tile is not.

The reason asbestos and mesothelioma most frequently affects workers is because asbestos may be released into the air while building, breaking, or repairing walls or car parts. Repeated exposure while on the job increases the likelihood of inhalation or ingestion, which in turn increases the risk of inflammation and/or cancer.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Asbestos Exposure?

Asbestos exposure symptoms may affect the lungs, stomach, or become noticeable first in other parts of the body.

Asbestos Exposure Symptoms: Lungs

Lung asbestos exposure symptoms may include:

  • Wheezing or dry cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • “Crackling” breaths
  • Tightness in chest or chest pain
  • Respiratory issues
  • Pleural plaques, thickening, or effusion (fluid around the lungs)
  • Asbestosis

Asbestos Exposure Symptoms: Abdomen

Should asbestos fibers embed in the stomach lining or esophagus (throat), exposure symptoms may manifest as:

  • Abdominal distention or swelling
  • Abdominal or pelvic pain
  • Hernia
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Loss of appetite and/or unexplained weight loss
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Hoarseness

Another general symptom of asbestos exposure is “clubbed” fingers, an enlargement of the fingertips and downward sloping of the nails, which causes a box-like appearance. Roughly half of all those with severe asbestosis develop this condition. Finger or digital clubbing appears to be caused by the biological effects of asbestosis rather than asbestos fibers directly, and is ​​associated with a more severe form of disease.

Whether these symptoms are caused by asbestos exposure or other health issues, it’s vital that you seek professional medical help immediately whenever your body feels off or unwell.

Do You Need an Asbestos Exposure Attorney?

If you’ve been diagnosed with any potentially asbestos-related disease or condition, it’s important that you reach out to asbestos exposure attorneys as soon as possible. Mesothelioma can take years to develop after asbestos contact, meaning a recent retiree may learn that they have a cancer that began decades prior, due to asbestos exposure at work.

An experienced asbestos and mesothelioma lawyer will have the knowledge necessary to seek and document the origin of the asbestos contact. Time is very much a factor in case success, as factories shut down, buildings change ownership, and evidence may disappear if it isn’t gathered quickly.

What a Settlement or Damages Award Could Mean for You

A settlement or damages award in an asbestos case could help with:

  • Medical bills for mesothelioma treatment and other asbestos-related conditions
  • Loss of employment, wages, benefits, or companionship
  • Pain and suffering resulting from a completely preventable illness that may lead to death
  • Wrongful death settlement or damages if the asbestos causes a fatal disease like cancer
  • Punitive damages against a company or building owner if they acted extremely negligently (restitution that may then be awarded to you on top of the other damages owed)
  • Condemning or cleaning up the asbestos source for the safety of your community

Asbestos has been widely known as a dangerous and potentially deadly material for decades. That means if you’ve been injured by asbestos, it’s likely due to negligence. Such negligence is punishable by law, and by seeking legal redress, you may be able to gain justice with the help of asbestos attorneys like those at D’Amico Law Offices.

Asbestos has been a known cancer-causing agent for decades. Contact D’Amico Law Offices at (412) 851-6406 if you’ve been exposed — we’re ready to discuss your options for support and justice.

Contact Asbestos Exposure Attorneys at D’Amico Law Offices

Asbestos is a known carcinogen (cancer-causing substance). A proper health response would have been to eradicate it from public life and family homes years ago, but that did not happen. If you’ve been exposed to asbestos or diagnosed with mesothelioma, a dedicated attorney may be able to help find the source, and potentially the responsible party that should be held liable.

D’Amico Law Offices is a family-run firm that is committed to seeking justice on behalf of the injured and their loved ones. Whether you were exposed to asbestos at work, at home, or elsewhere, contact us today by calling (412) 652-9300, or by filling out our online form

The sooner you reach out to professional legal counsel, the sooner you may receive the answers you need.

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