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Is Asbestos Dust Dangerous?

Is Asbestos Dust Dangerous?
Yes, very dangerous.

How dangerous? Asbestos exposure can cause the following serious and possibly life-threatening conditions.

Asbestos induced carcinoma
Asbestos related pleural disease

Asbestosis is a scarring of the spongy part of the lung. It stiffens the lungs and makes them less able to transfer oxygen. The immediate effect is breathlessness usually with exertion, but later even minimal amounts of exercise can cause breathlessness. The disease tends to progress and severe cases can result in death from respiratory failure.

Asbestos related pleural disease
Asbestos related pleural disease is a process that usually begins with an inflammation of the pleura that leads to fluid collecting in the space between the lung and the chest wall. This is also commonly referred to as benign asbestos related pleural effusion.

The disease normally manifests sooner after asbestos exposure than mesothelioma. Symptoms include shortness of breath and discomfort. When the pleural fluid eventually goes away, the pleura on the lung may become thickened which can compress the lung.

Asbestos induced carcinoma of the lung
This is often referred to as bronchogenic carcinoma. It is recognized as being one of the most common complications of asbestos exposure and it invariably causes death. Asbestos induced carcinoma of the lung is one of the most fatal of the common cancers.

80% of all people who contract bronchogenic carcinoma die within two years of diagnosis being made. It is not necessary for a worker to have asbestosis in order to attribute bronchogenic carcinoma to asbestos exposure. The attribution can be made if there has been sufficient exposure to asbestos dust.

Pleural Mesothelioma
Pleural mesothelioma is a malignant tumour that develops in the pleura. The pleura is a very thin layer of tissue that wraps itself around the lung and lines the inside of the chest wall.

Symptoms include a rapid and substantial build up of fluid, pain and breathlessness.

Mesothelioma is almost always fatal. Any treatment whether it be surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy is unsuccessful in terms of long term care. Care can only be palliative.

Peritoneal mesothelioma
The abdomen is lined with a similar type of tissue to the pleura. The tissue is called the peritoneum. The first sign of a peritoneal mesothelioma is usually swelling of the abdomen. Apart from a substantial build up of fluid the disease causes discomfort and / or pain and obvious interference with abdominal functions.

Asbestos induced carcinoma of other organs
Asbestos dust has been implicated in cases of renal cell carcinoma and also in cases of cancer of the larynx but is very difficult to prove at law. Medical and scientific evidence in the area of asbestos induced carcinoma of organs other than the lungs is still in a state of evolution.

Pleural plaques
Pleural plaques are the most common manifestation of past asbestos exposure. They are basically patches of thickened tissue on the surface of the lung.

Pleural plaques cause symptoms including pain in some cases but current medical and scientific knowledge does not support the proposition that pleural plaques predispose victims to other complications such as mesothelioma.