Those exposed to asbestos may experience shortness of breath, loss of appetite associated with weight loss, chest pain or tightness, and a dry, persistent cough associated with a condition called asbestosis. According to the Mayo Clinic, this is a disease that affects those who worked in many manufacturing, milling or mining jobs before the 1970s.
Asbestosis is a lung disease caused by regular exposure and inhalation of asbestos fibers. Before medical professionals and government regulators realized that asbestos was a harmful substance, it was often used in floor tiles, cement and insulation.
What are the risk factors of asbestosis?
Many workers were exposed to asbestos on the job. These jobs include shipyard workers, railroad workers, construction workers, auto and aircraft mechanics, asbestos miners, electricians and boiler operators. Family members could also risk secondhand exposure if someone in the same household worked with asbestos and brought it home on their clothing.
Those who live close to mines are also at greater risk of developing asbestosis, which can lead to lung cancer and on rare occasions, malignant mesothelioma. When individuals or companies ignore safety measures related to asbestos, the chances of individual developing asbestosis is greatly increased.
Is there a way to avoid asbestosis?
Federal law now requires that when any time asbestos is used, those using them take special safety measures. While many older buildings house with materials that contain asbestos, they are typically safe if the material stays undisturbed and enclosed. If the material enters the air, it is easily inhaled and can lead to long-term illness and even death.