Asbestos Exposure Symptoms and Risks

Asbestos Exposure Symptoms

Public awareness about the dangers of asbestos has risen over the past twenty years. This heightened awareness has lead to concerns about asbestos exposure symptoms and a growing desire to determine if the symptoms asbestos exposure cause can be identified.

What are the Symptoms of Asbestos Exposure?

When discussing the symptoms of exposure to asbestos, we are actually referring to symptoms which are related to specific disease not to the exposure.

Common Asbestosis Symptoms

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Chronic cough
  • Easily exhausted from psychical excretion
  • Shortness of breath

Lung Cancer Symptoms

  • Dry, irritating cough
  • Increase in sputum production
  • Blood mixed with sputum
  • Chest pain
  • Lung infection

Common Mesothelioma Symptoms can be characterized by fluid build up in the lungs or in the abdomen and each may have different symptoms.

  • Fluid in the lungs
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Persistent cough
  • Weight Loss
  • Fatigue
  • Fluid in the abdomen
  • Swelling
  • Weight loss
  • Nausea
  • Obstructed bowels
  • Anemia
  • Fever and/or night sweats

If you experience any of these symptoms, you should consult a physician for proper diagnosis and treatment.

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a general term that refers to any of the six fibrous minerals used to manufacture commercial products. Asbestos has been used in commercial products in the United States since the late 1800’s. It was heavily used during World War II in military and ship building applications for insulation and fire proofing. A small sampling of products that have contained asbestos include, insulation, tiles, building materials, adhesives, plastics, paints, brake and clutch pads, crayons and even hair dryers. Asbestos usage levels have steadily declined since the 1970s. Today asbestos is strictly regulated by OSHA and EPA but is still used in many commercial products.

Who is at Risk?

Your risk of exposure is dependent on your past and present environment. Asbestos in an undisturbed state presents little risk. Deteriorating or disturbed asbestos can release visible or microscopic fibers into the environment. Direct contact to airborne particles can or may have occurred in the work setting but exposure can also happened in your home or even outdoors. Those individuals working in marine, shipbuilding and ship salvage, construction materials and coatings manufacturing, construction and brake and transmission parts manufacturing and asbestos mining faced the highest exposure risks. In addition, employees in heavy use or mining industries often came home covered in asbestos fibers, unknowingly exposing their families. Individuals living near asbestos mines or manufacturing plants also may have been exposed.

Today, exposure risks are highest for those working in the manufacture of asbestos containing products most notably, building materials particularly roofing products, as well as coatings and brake and transmission parts and those working in the removal abatement industry, including structural removal and ship salvage.

Inhaling asbestos fibers over a prolong period of time can cause non cancerous lung diseases like asbestosis, cancer of the lungs and mesothelioma which is cancer of the lining of the lungs. Symptoms of these diseases do not become apparent for several years, often decades. The period of time after exposure until symptoms are apparent is referred to as latency period.


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