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Diseases caused by asbestos exposure

Even with all of the known risks of asbestos, it is still found in many workplaces around the world. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 125 million workers are exposed to asbestos every year. That can lead to serious health issues and costly medical treatment. In the worst cases, asbestos exposure can lead to death. While there are laws and initiatives in place to reduce asbestos exposure, many workers are still in danger on a daily basis.

Asbestos was once a popular element in building construction because it is a poor conductor of heat. Builders would often use asbestos as a fire retardant and apply it liberally throughout a building's structure. Asbestos is also used in other flame retardant products, like shingles, water lines and fire blankets. While it is an effective safety material, its benefits are often offset by its health risks. Exposure to asbestos has led to numerous lawsuits and workers' compensation claims.

Asbestos can cause a number of serious health conditions because it is carcinogenic for humans. That means that consistent exposure can lead to a number of respiratory diseases like mesothelioma and lung cancer. It can also cause other conditions like asbestosis, larynx cancer, ovary cancer and effusion in the pleura. The World Health Organization estimates that workplace exposure to asbestos leads to more than 100,000 lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma deaths each year. The organization also estimates that asbestos causes approximately half of all occupational cancer deaths.

The diseases caused by asbestos exposure are serious. They often necessitate lengthy and costly treatments. If the conditions are fatal, the worker's death could leave his or her family in a financially challenging position. While financial compensation may not cure the disease, it can help alleviate the financial strain. An attorney with experience handling workplace asbestos claims could help a worker pursue compensation.

Source: WHO, "Asbestos: elimination of asbestos-related diseases", December 15, 2014

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