The dangers of asbestos — a material once thought to be so perfectly safe that it was used in nearly every new home and commercial building as insulation and more — are now quite well-known.
Yet, people are still being unnecessarily exposed to asbestos all the time — usually through careless or negligent management of the dangers during the renovations of older buildings.
For example, around 120 employees of the city of Austin, Texas, were exposed to the dangers of asbestos while their officers were being renovated during a five-month period in 2016.
While some workers apparently voiced their concerns over the possibility that asbestos-containing materials were being exposed and disturbed during renovations, management never saw fit to take the necessary steps required to ensure everyone’s safety.
When asbestos is spotted in older buildings, it requires special handling in order to be removed safely. Often, it is even possible to simply cover over it and leave it alone. It’s the act of disturbing it and removing it that puts the dangerous fibers into the air and vents of a building, where they can be breathed in by everybody working there.
The damage done to those who breathe in the asbestos fibers, however, may not show up for decades. In the Texas case, now that higher authorities have been alerted of the problem, at least eight workers who handled the asbestos-laden materials have been granted lifelong health monitoring — but that’s probably not exactly a comforting thought for any of them.
If you’ve been exposed to asbestos at any point in your life, be on alert for the following symptoms:
— Clubbing or your fingertip or toes (where they develop an abnormally wide and round shape)
— A tightening in your chest or pain, especially when you are active
— Unexplained weight loss (not related to dieting) or a general loss of appetite
— A dry, hacking cough that doesn’t go away with time or treatment
— Shortness of breath without explanation
Keep in mind that some occupations tend to have a higher rate of asbestos exposure than others. Those working in construction, the aviation industry, industrial workers, shipyard workers and electricians are generally at the most risk.
If you’ve developed complications from asbestos exposure, it’s wise to seek out the advice of an attorney so that you understand your right to compensation.
Source: Mayo Clinic, “Asbestosis,” accessed July 10, 2017