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What illnesses are associated with asbestos exposure?

Over the last 100 years, railroad workers here in Connecticut and across the country have worked around asbestos. Brakes, pipes and boilers are just some of the equipment insulated with asbestos in the railroad industry. Railcars used to be full of the toxic substance to insulate against heat and electrical components.

This means that railroad workers commonly contract illnesses associated with asbestos dust and fibers. The exposure could take place decades before symptoms manifest. You may already know about an asbestos-related cancer called mesothelioma, but that isn't the only disease associated with the substance. Each illness has serious health ramifications for their sufferers.

Asbestosis

Deeply inhaling asbestos fibers could lead to asbestosis from a high level of exposure to asbestos. The scarring of the respiratory bronchioles (fibrosis) in the lungs characterizes this condition. The fibrosis can progress long after your exposure to asbestos stops. More than likely, your doctor may suspect this condition if you complain of not being able to take full breaths and your gas exchanges decline.

You may not exhibit symptoms or receive a diagnosis until 20 to 40 years after your exposure. Many people who contract asbestosis end up with asbestos-related lung cancer or mesothelioma.

Asbestos-related pleural abnormalities

Frequently suffering from a build-up of fluid around your lungs (pleural effusion) indicates that you could suffer from this malady. Even low levels of exposure can result in pleural effusions. You may also suffer from pleural thickening, folded lung or pleural plaques. Moderate to high levels of exposure can lead to this condition. Approximately 50 percent of those exposed to asbestos end up with this condition.

This condition can lay dormant in your body anywhere between 15 and 30 years. Fortunately, it doesn't have to be fatal but can lead to other asbestos-related diseases.

Lung cancer

Approximately four to 12 percent of all cases of lung cancer result from exposure to asbestos. However, lung cancer tends to be higher in workers exposed to asbestos who also smoked tobacco products. The amount of your exposure to asbestos and the length of time in years helps clinicians determine whether asbestos exposure contributed to lung cancer.

Compensation

Whether your doctor diagnoses you with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related illness, you may receive compensation through either the Federal Employers Liability Act or the Federal Railway Safety Act. Filing claims under these acts could provide you with the funds you need to cover your medical expenses and other damages you suffered due to your occupational exposure to asbestos.

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