Exposure to asbestos in the workplace and the associated claims under the NC Workers Compensation Act are notoriously complicated.
In part that is due to the nature of the substance, the scientific evidence associated with the causality of the workplace “injury,” and inconsistent expert testimony.
According to the National Cancer Institute, “asbestos” includes a group of different naturally occurring minerals in the environment.
The minerals exist as fibers that are “bundled” to make durable, thin threads.
The fibers do not carry a current or allow conduction of currency. They are also heat resistant, resistant to chemicals, and fire.
Industrial uses of asbestos are both extensive and varied.What is Asbestos?
The minerals associated with asbestos are often categorized into two groups:
- Amphibole Asbestos; and,
- Serpentine Asbestos
Amphibole asbestos is needle-shaped, straight, and brittle. It is more difficult to fabricate.
Serpentine asbestos is curly-shaped, long, and more pliable to such extent that it may be woven. It includes the chrysotile mineral.
Chrysotile asbestos is the most widely used form asbestos in commercial applications.
Exposure to asbestos can take place in the home, within communities, and at the workplace. When and if materials containing asbestos are disturbed, tiny fibers may be released into the air and breather in.
When inhaled, asbestos can get caught up in the lungs and remain indefinitely. Over the years, asbestos fibers can cause inflammation and scarring.
Inhalation of asbestos fibers may also cause long-lasting, if not permanent medical conditions, some of which are life-threatening.
Mesothelioma, which is a type of cancer, is known to be caused by asbestos. It is a disease that affects the lining of the abdomen and chest.
Cancers of the ovaries, lungs, and larynx are possible with exposure asbestos.
The most common form of asbestos-related cancer is Mesothelioma. It is also linked to higher incidence of colorectal cancer, and cancers of both the pharynx and stomach.
Asbestosis, a condition similar to asthma, is also related to asbestos exposure. Asbestosis is characterized by:
- Inflammation of the lungs and respiratory track
- Shortness of Breath
- Lung Damage (permanent)
- Pleural thickening
- Nonmalignant pleural disorders
- Pleural Plaques
- Pleural Effusions
Given the ubiquity of asbestos in the United States, almost everyone is exposed to one form of asbestos or another.
Asbestos exists naturally, low levels of which may be present in the soil, air, and water.
The vast majority of Americans to not become sick from exposure to asbestos. A causal connection between illness and regular exposure.
If exposed regularly at work, either through heightened environmental contact or working hands-on with materials containing asbestos, illness may occur.
Long term, substantial exposure to asbestos is not required. Asbestos-related illness and disease have been found in individuals only briefly exposed.
It may take years for the symptomology to present itself as a pleural condition or cancer. Factors to consider in determining the dangers to the individual include:
- The nature and extent of exposure
- The duration of exposure
- The type of asbestos
- The shape and size of the asbestos fibers
- Sources of exposure
- Pre-existing medical conditions
- Smoking-Related Diseases of the lungs
Exposure to both categories of asbestos are deemed dangerous. Chrysotile asbestos is generally thought of to be less of a heath risk than amphibole asbestos.
Amphibole asbestos is believed to remain in the lungs for a longer period of time, thus creating the opportunity for inflammation and disease.
Testing for lung disease may include a thorough and complete medical examination, including lung function testing and x-rays. Asbestos fibers cannot be seen on x-rays; but, resulting damage and early signs of lung disease may be detected.
The most reliable form of detection of asbestos involves surgery, collecting a lung sample and biopsy. The lung biopsy can detect the microscopic associated with asbestos.Background Exposure to Asbestos
Asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral. It is in the ambient air. Americans are exposed to asbestos in both water and food, through both artificial and natural sources.
Background exposure is related to several different factors including proximity to large cities, industrial centers, and regional geography. Low level exposure to asbestos may be found in literally 100% of the population.
The North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act defines the medical condition of asbestosis as:
"Characteristic fibrotic conditions of the lungs caused by inhalation of asbestos dust” - NCGS § 97-62Asbestos-Related Diseases and Causality
A “dose-response” relationship exists between exposure and asbestos-related medical conditions and disease.
There is a cumulative effect, as asbestos is inhaled and trapped in the linings of the lungs and airways. The higher the “exposure dose” the greater the chance of disease.
The medical condition asbestosis in believed to require the highest exposure dose. Lower exposures to asbestosis may result in mesothelioma, pleural plaques, and pleural thickening.
Of people diagnosed with asbestosis, 80% will suffer from bilateral pleural plaques. Unfortunately, medical experts fail to diagnose 90% of bilateral pleural plaques.Related Legal Issues and Sources
- Asbestos and Cancer
- Value of Workmans Compensation Claims
- Types of Disability Benefits
- Who Pays Medical Bills
The Dodge Jones Injury Law Firm is dedicated to helping people injured on the job or through the negligence of others.
If you suffer from a work-related injury or have been diagnoses with asbestosis or other asbestos-related medical condition, please call now to schedule an appointment.
Given the long-lasting, if not life-threating cancers associated with mesothelioma and exposure to asbestos, it makes sense to consider your legal options.
Kevin Jones is a compassionate advocate for people injured due to employment. Our law firm provides free consultations. Everything you discuss with our plaintiff’s lawyers is confidential.
That’s true also with information shared with our support staff. You are protected by “attorney-client privilege,” even if you decide not to retain legal representation or file a claim for damages.
You may reach Kevin Jones by calling one of our eastern North Carolina office locations. He help people throughout North Carolina with Worker Compensation claims including places like:
- Jacksonville NC
- Greenville NC
- Morehead City
- Beaufort NC
- New Bern
- Harker's Island
- OBX Outer Banks
- IBX Inner Banks
We are also willing to visit you at home, at the hospital, or at a place of your choosing.
We want to make retaining our law office an easy, uncomplicated process.
Email Kevin Jones directly at: Kevin@DodgeJones.com