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What are the dangers of asbestos?

Some Pennsylvania workers may need to educate themselves regarding the dangers of asbestos exposure. Asbestos is a type of fibrous mineral that was used for insulation in the United States for many years. It was also used in a number of other products including fire blankets, brake linings for automobiles and roofing shingles. However, it is carcinogenic to humans and causes a number of different cancers including ovarian and lung cancer and cancer of the larynx. It also causes other diseases including a type of lung disease. Over 100,000 people per year die from exposure to asbestos, and it accounts for roughly half of all cancer cases related to occupation.

Asbestos occurs in several forms known as white asbestos or chrysotile, blue asbestos or crocidolite, tremolite, amosite, anthophylite and actinolite. While asbestos is no longer used in the United States, it is still used in many countries, and some structures in the United States still have asbestos insulation. The World Health Organization works with other organizations to put an end to asbestos use worldwide as well as safely remove asbestos from existing structures. The WHO also works to monitor workers who have been exposed to asbestos.

Individuals may develop complications as a result of asbestos exposure years after the fact. However, because it is well-established as dangerous to human health, those individuals may be able to seek compensation to cover medical expenses, lost wages and other costs.

An individual who becomes ill or who is contacted by a company years later regarding potential asbestos exposure may wish to consult an attorney. In some cases, a company may be willing to settle out of court to avoid the publicity and cost of a trial.

Source: WHO, "Asbestos: elimination of asbestos-related diseases", December 04, 2014

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