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Asbestos injury: When illness and workplace intersect

When you hear people talk about asbestos, it might sound like something out of the dark ages. In fact, many Louisiana readers might think asbestos is a specific product or item. It's really a combination of six naturally occurring minerals. These minerals form bundles of fibers. They are microscopic but are useful in manufacturing and industry once they are separated into thin, threads. These threads are highly durable and typically heat resistant and flame retardant.

You can discuss the scientific components and qualities of asbestos all day long. You'd still have no way to know if you are exposed to it at home or in the workplace unless someone certified to do so would test the air where you live or work to detect its presence. Sadly, many employers are aware of asbestos problems but fail to tell their employees or properly train them and provide equipment to keep them safe.

Asbestos is most dangerous when disturbed

Things like ceiling and floor tiles, car or motorcycle parts, cabinetry, spray insulation, and other building materials often contain asbestos. If nothing disturbs it, the risk for injury may be lower. However, there is no safe amount of asbestos exposure. If you breathe it in or ingest it, you are at great risk for developing asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma or asbestosis.

When the microscopic fibers cling to a worker's skin, hair or clothing, loved ones at home are also at risk for injury if the worker comes home wearing the same clothes. This is known as second-hand asbestos exposure and poses similar risk as second-hand cigarette smoke.

Symptoms that warrant immediate medical examination

If you suffer asbestos injury in the workplace, symptoms might remain hidden for a long time. However, if you experience any of the issues on the following list and suspect that it might have something to do with asbestos, it's critical that you seek immediate medical attention:

  • A cough that won't go away
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Problems with appetite
  • Pain in your chest or abdomen
  • A feeling of malaise
  • Coughing up blood
  • Lingering fatigue
  • Trouble breathing properly
  • Tightness in your chest area

If a doctor diagnoses you or your loved one with a terminal illness, it might take time to come to terms with your situation. It's helpful to reach out for guidance and support from others who have gone through similar circumstances. Many Louisiana workers also consult attorneys well-versed in asbestos litigation when considering seeking financial recovery for their losses in court.

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