Asbestos is a mineral that naturally forms in crystalline fibers. Because of its durable and fire-retardant properties, asbestos is widely used in many industrial applications. Unfortunately, asbestos is a dangerous material to work around. Individual asbestos fibers are thin and light – able to float in the air. Without adequate protection, workers can easily inhale these asbestos fibers. Sometimes the family of such a worker may even be exposed to asbestos from the fibers brought home on work clothes.
Tiny asbestos fibers work their way down into the lungs, where they pierce the tissue. Sometimes asbestos exposure causes significant scarring of the lungs, called asbestosis. There are many harmful effects associated with asbestosis. In some individuals, the asbestos fibers slowly work their way through the lung tissue and into the mesothelium, a layer of cells that surrounds and lungs and abdominal cavity. This lining becomes irritated by the crystalline asbestos fibers, which may eventually cause cancer to form.
Mesothelioma can form in the lining of the lungs (pleural mesothelioma) or the abdomen (peritoneal mesothelioma). Either way, this form of cancer has no cure and is considered a terminal disease. Mesothelioma may take years to develop, and the symptoms may not be evident until long after the exposure occurred. The company that allowed you to be exposed to asbestos may be held liable for negligence.