Are you one of many people in Illinois who have possibly dealt with asbestos exposure? Anyone who works or lives in an older building, factory, shipyard or structure that went through renovation may be at risk for asbestos-related injury. If you work in a place where such hazards are present, your employer is legally obligated to inform you of the issues and also to provide proper training and equipment available to help you stay safe.
Sadly, far too many incidents have occurred in the past where employers failed in their duties, and workers suffered after contracting terminal illnesses after being exposed to asbestos on the job. Perhaps it is a second-hand exposure problem that has placed you at risk; if your spouse or a parent comes home with asbestos fibers on his or her clothing, you could have inhaled or ingested the microscopic particles. There is no safe amount of asbestos exposure; however, there are definitely times when the substance poses an increased danger.
Friability is a key factor
Have you ever held dirt in your hand that easily crumbles? If so, then the soil you held was a friable material. Friability is significant regarding asbestos-laden materials. While the microscopic fibers always pose a human health risk, materials that are easy to crumble are most dangerous. This includes issues such as wet ceiling tiles or flooring.
The less disturbed, the safer it is
It may be tempting to simply get rid of any material you suspect may contain asbestos; for instance, cabinetry or insulation. However, as soon as you touch it, you greatly increase your risk for injury. Hammering, drilling, scraping and other typical construction or renovation behavior can release microscopic fibers into the air that you may then ingest or inhale.
If that happens
Once you swallow or breathe in asbestos particles, they can become lodged in your lungs or elsewhere in your body. This is how people often contract incurable diseases such as mesothelioma and asbestosis. If a doctor diagnoses you or your loved one with such an illness, the focus changes from finding a cure for the illness to palliative care, meaning treatment that helps alleviate pain and discomfort.
Justice for victims
Knowing that your or your loved one's illness was likely preventable can cause feelings of frustration and anger. Many asbestos injury victims have found it therapeutic to seek justice through the civil court system. Medical care for terminally ill patients is expensive. Court-awarded compensation often provides means for financial relief.