WHAT IS ASBESTOSIS? Asbestosis Claims Solicitors
Asbestosis is a chronic lung disease which leads to long-term breathing complications. The disease does not have a cure. It is caused exclusively by exposure to asbestos, but may not be diagnosed until decades after the exposure occurred.
WHAT IS ASBESTOS?
Asbestos is a group of minerals with thin microscopic fibres. These fibres are resistant to heat, fire, and chemicals and do not conduct electricity. These desirable properties made asbestos a very widely used material, and its use continued to grow throughout most of the 20th century until the carcinogenic effects of asbestos dust caused its effective demise as a mainstream construction and fireproofing material in most countries. It should be noted that you can no longer buy, use or re-use asbestos products in Ireland, i.e., under EU legislation, there is now a ban on asbestos and asbestos-containing products being placed on the market.
Asbestos exposure becomes an issue if asbestos containing materials become airborne – if products containing asbestos are disturbed, the tiny fibres are released into the air. When they are breathed in, they can become trapped in the lungs and stay there for many years. Over time these fibers can accumulate and lead to serious health problems.
- Asbestosis: an inflammatory condition of lungs that can cause shortness of breath, coughing, and eventually scarring of the lungs that makes it hard to breathe.
- Mesothelioma: a rare cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, chest cavity, or abdomen.
- Lung cancer
- Pleural plaques: One of the most common indicators of significant exposure to asbestos. Characterized by areas of fibrous thickening on the lining of the lungs (pleura) or diaphragm, the condition typically arises 20 to 30 years after asbestos exposure. The plaques can calcify over time, but they do not cause long-term health problems. Pleural plaques are always benign and will never become cancerous but scientific evidence suggests that the presence of pleural plaques increases the risk of developing mesothelioma.
- Other lung problems
WHEN IS ASBESTOS HAZARDOUS?
When left undisturbed asbestos containing materials do not present a risk to people working or living in buildings with asbestos. It is harmful if it is releasing dust or fibres into the air where they can be inhaled or ingested. Asbestos is extremely dangerous when it is friable. “Friable” means that the asbestos is easily crumbled by hand which then releases fibres into the air. Sprayed on asbestos insulation is extremely friable whereas asbestos floor tiles are not.
SYMPTOMS, DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT OF ASBESTOSIS
Asbestos related diseases take many years to develop. The average interval between inhaling asbestos fibres and the onset of symptoms is around 35 years and can be as long as 50 years or more. The shortest latency period is between 10 to 15 years.
If you worked with asbestos, even if it was many years ago you may be affected. Asbestos related disease also occur among the wives and children of those who come into contact with the relative’s overalls worn whilst working with asbestos.
There are many different types of asbestos related conditions and they each vary in severity. The conditions include Pleural Plaques, Mesothelioma, Lung Cancer and Asbestosis. Asbestosis is often misused as a term for any asbestos related disease.
If you have developed any asbestos related condition (with the exception of pleural plaques) and, if it can be proven that you were exposed to the asbestos due to someone else’s fault then you would be entitled to bring in a personal injury claim for compensation.
The chance of developing an asbestos-related illness from a one-off incident of low level exposure is not impossible but very unlikely. One point to remember is that the earlier an asbestos related disease is diagnosed, the better the condition can be monitored or treated.
X-Rays, scans and lung-function tests can diagnose an asbestos related disease and monitor its progression.
INFORMATION ABOUT PLEURAL PLAQUES
What are Pleural Plaques?
Pleural plaques are a form of scarring of the outer lining of the lung. Although pleural plaques do not normally cause any symptoms they are an indication of previous exposure to asbestos.
People diagnosed with pleural plaques, often become anxious about whether they will develop a fatal asbestos related illness in the future, such as mesothelioma
What is Pleural Thickening?
Pleural Thickening or Diffuse Pleural Thickening
Pleural Thickening can be caused by exposure to asbestos. The asbestos fibres which are inhaled through the nose or mouth into the lungs, can make their way out to the pleura (the two layered membrane surrounding the lungs) and cause scarring and thickening.
If the areas of thickening are not widespread and are isolated to small areas they do not generally cause any symptoms and are known as pleural plaques; however if they cover a large area where they may make breathing difficult, they are known as diffuse pleural thickening.
Pleural Thickening can develop on one lung or on both lungs and causes the tissue to harden, which in turn prevents the lungs from working correctly, making the sufferer feel breathless.
Pleural Thickening can be a disabling condition by itself; however, it also proves that the sufferer has been exposed to asbestos in the past which puts them at risk of developing otherasbestos related diseases such as asbestosis or mesothelioma.
If you have been diagnosed with pleural thickening, you may be able to make a claim for pleural thickening compensation.
IDENTIFYING ASBESTOS PRODUCTS
Many products that contain asbestos state the fact on the label. However, if you are unsure as to whether a product contains asbestos, you can contact the manufacturer or supplier directly to find out if asbestos is contained in the product. If you are still unsure, you should contact a competent person or consultant who will identify if the product is asbestos containing and will assess the risk associated with the material. Advice can be obtained from the asbestos removals contractors, asbestos consultants, the Department of the Environment and Local Government. Where concerns relate to the workplace or work activities, the Health and Safety Authority can also give advice.
The following is a list of products that are presumed to contain Asbestos**:
(** Note: The following list does not include every product/material that may contain asbestos. It is intended as a general guide to show which types of materials may contain asbestos)
- Sprayed on fire proofing and insulation in buildings
- Insulation for pipes and boilers
- Wall and ceiling insulation
- Ceiling and floor tiles
- Cement wall joint compounds and ceiling textures in older buildings
- Brake linings and clutch pads
Time is of the essence in progressing an asbestos related claim
Asbestos-related diseases can range from mild and benign to malignant and life-threatening and when it comes to a claim, time is of the essence. At Coleman Legal Partners we have extensive experience in progressing asbestos related cases within the limited timeframe required to achieve either a judgment or settlement.
As experienced medical negligence solicitors our expertise means that we can assess your claim efficiently and in a timely manner.
Our Medical Negligence and Asbestosis Solicitors are happy to meet with you to explain the legal options available to you.
ASBESTOS IN THE NEWS
- Irish Examiner (May 23rd 2014) ‘Asbestos exposure fears grow for naval workers’ Click here to read
- The Irish Times (October 21st 2014) ‘Asbestos traces found in exhibit at the Irish Museum of Modern Art’ Click here to read
- Irish Independent (January 9th 2015) ‘Wives victim to cancer from asbestos on husband’s clothes’ Click here to read
PUBLIC INFORMATION SERVICES
- Irish Cancer Society ‘Living with mesothelioma’ Click here to read
- Citizens information ‘Asbestos regulations in Ireland’Click here to read
*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement. This statement is made in compliance with RE.8 of SI 518 of 2002