Many Illinois and Missouri residents may have grown up in old homes or worked in buildings that were made using asbestos as construction materials. Asbestos, which is a type of mineral, was used because it was an effective insulator and flame retardant. However, it was found that exposure to asbestos fibers could be hazardous to a person’s health.

There are three ways a person could be exposed to asbestos: occupational exposure, paraoccupational exposure and neighborhood exposure. Occupational exposure to asbestos occurs when workers are exposed to the mineral through their jobs. Paraoccupational exposure occurs when a worker’s friends or family members are exposed to asbestos that the worker may have on his or her hair and clothing. Finally, neighborhood exposure occurs when individuals live or work near sites that have materials containing asbestos.

Those who are continuously exposed to materials containing asbestos may be at risk for developing mesothelioma. This disease causes the lining of the chest or abdominal cavity to begin to abnormally divide and become cancerous. These cancerous cells then begin to invade other parts of the body and any nearby organs and tissues. If left untreated, the cancerous cells could eventually metastasize to other parts of the body.

It can take years of exposure before victims are diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases, including lung conditions, as the asbestos fibers do not show up on chest X-rays. As a result, a person who experiences long-term exposure to asbestos could suffer serious health-related consequences long before he or she is ever diagnosed. If the exposure occurred at a workplace or due to a work site using asbestos materials, a personal injury attorney may assist with helping the victim seek compensation that could help with the cost of medical expenses and other related damages.