Asbestos is responsible for over 5,000 deaths every year. Younger people, if routinely exposed to asbestos fibres over time, are at greater risk of developing asbestos-related disease than older workers. This is because the symptoms are very slow to develop and can take up to 60 years. This is called the latency period.
What diseases can asbestos cause?
Exposure to asbestos can cause four main diseases:
- Mesothelioma (a cancer of the lining of the lungs; it is always fatal and is almost exclusively caused by exposure to asbestos)
- Asbestos-related lung cancer (which is almost always fatal)
- Asbestosis (a scarring of the lungs which is not always fatal but can be a very debilitating disease, greatly affecting quality of life)
- Diffuse pleural thickening (a thickening of the membrane surrounding the lungs which can restrict lung expansion leading to breathlessness)
How long before asbestos related diseases develop?
It can take anywhere between 10-60 years for any symptoms to develop after exposure, so these diseases will not affect you immediately but may do later in life. Asbestos was a widely used material within commercial buildings, homes and machinery until 1999, when it was banned. This means that asbestos is common in the general environment.
However, asbestos is not just a problem of the past. It can be present today in any building built or refurbished before the year 2000. Most regrettably this includes school buildings.
When materials that contain asbestos are disturbed or damaged, fibres are released into the air. When these fibres are inhaled they can cause serious diseases. These diseases will not affect you immediately; they often take a long time to develop, but once diagnosed, it is often too late to do anything. This is why it is important that you protect yourself now.
If you need legal advice regarding an asbestos compensation claim, call Levi Solicitors in Leeds, Bradford, Wakefield, Manchester and London on 01924 692 125.