At the Law Offices of Gallner & Pattermann PC in Iowa, we know how hard you work as a construction worker. We also know that there is a strong likelihood that, unbeknownst to you, you breathe in microscopic asbestos fibers every day at your worksite.
Per the National Cancer Institute, asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral contained in many construction materials. Long known for its resistance to fire and flame and its excellent insulating properties, the downside of asbestos is that it breaks down over time and also is easily disturbed by such construction tools and equipment as sanders, saws, drills, and other abrasive processes.
Unlike other minerals, however, asbestos does not break down into simple dust that a dust mask will stop. Instead, it deteriorates into sharp microscopic fibers that easily pass through your dust mask and become embedded in the lining of your lungs. Once there, they start to build up and eventually scar your lungs, causing a debilitating condition known as asbestosis.
Construction workers most at risk
Since asbestos fibers are so minuscule and light, they disperse over a wide area on the slightest indoor or outdoor air current Consequently, everyone nearby inhales them. Nevertheless, you are at greatest risk if you are one of the following:
- Drywall installer or plasterer
- Stonemason or bricklayer
- Floor and/or wall tile installer
- Electrician or plumber
Not only is asbestosis a progressive and incurable medical condition, it also is a stealthy one. You may have lost 25 percent of your lung capacity by the time you notice asbestosis symptoms 15-20 years after your initial asbestos exposure.
Getting properly diagnosed with asbestosis can be difficult because its symptoms are so diffuse and also associated with other diseases as well. For instance, some of the most common asbestosis symptoms include the following:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Frequent severe coughing and/or coughing up blood
- Frequent respiratory infections
- Unexplained weight loss
- Sudden fevers of 101 degrees or higher
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