Asbestos can cause lung cancer and mesothelioma, and the best way to stay safe is to avoid coming into contact with it. But how can you avoid it if you can’t identify it? If you’re worried about being exposed, the first thing you’ll need to know is how to identify asbestos. There are different ways you can do this, but one you do not want to try is identifying it by smell.
Does asbestos smell? It is a myth that asbestos has a smell, and attempting to smell it can be extremely dangerous. Mesothelioma is caused by inhaling asbestos particles into your lungs. These particles then develop tumors around them. Once these deadly fibers have been inhaled, there is nothing you can do to remove them.
Can You See or Smell Asbestos Fibers in the Air?
According to the American Lung Association, asbestos is a naturally occurring toxic substance that has no odor and no taste when it’s airborne. If you know someone who claims asbestos smells like chemicals, smells bad, or has any smell at all, they are most likely associating another smell with asbestos.
Just as you cannot smell asbestos fibers, you also won’t be able to see them. These particles are microscopic, so they’re not visible to the naked eye. You will never know they’re in the air you’re breathing until it’s too late.
Asbestos Exposure: Who Is at Risk?
So how can you know if you’re exposed to asbestos? The only way you will know if you have asbestos in your body is if you worked in a field where you were exposed to asbestos and you then received a diagnosis of mesothelioma or lung cancer as a result.
You are at a greater risk of asbestos exposure if you work in any of the following occupations:
- Construction workers
- Industrial workers
- Military members
- Shipyard workers
- Power plant workers
- Auto mechanics
If you suspect that you have suffered from exposure to asbestos, you may associate a smell with damaged insulation, flooring, or other groundwork from a job site. Even though the smell wasn’t asbestos, that doesn’t mean you haven’t been harmed by it.
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Complications of Asbestos Exposure
Increased exposure to asbestos raises the risk of asbestosis, or lung disease caused by asbestos fibers. Consequently, people who develop asbestosis are more likely to develop even more severe illnesses like mesothelioma and lung cancer.
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that is primarily seen in people who suffered from exposure to asbestos while on the job. It begins in the linings of the lungs, heart, or stomach, and it can spread to other parts of the body. Mesothelioma has no cure, and it’s usually diagnosed in the late stages when victims don’t have much time left.
All cases of mesothelioma will progress individually, with no certain cure rate. Treatments for mesothelioma include efforts to mitigate cancer cells like radiation, surgery, and the removal of fluid from the chest. There are also experimental treatments that may improve your quality of living and extend your life, such as immunotherapy.
Lung cancer is considered the top cancer-related killer in the United States. Asbestos workers may be at an increased risk for lung cancer if they have a history of smoking or any lung-related health conditions.
Like most other cancers, lung cancer will vary from person to person, and it can present itself on a number of different stages. Possible treatments for lung cancer include:
- Surgery to remove the cancer
At least a century’s worth of workers in manual labor suffered from exposure to asbestos fibers before it was considered a serious problem and regulated by the EPA. Damage from asbestos exposure generally cannot be reversed, but in rare cases, patients may be eligible for a lung transplant.
What to Do if You Believe You’ve Been Exposed to Asbestos
If you have any reason to believe you have been exposed to asbestos, it’s imperative that you get checked out by a doctor. The doctor will identify your condition through several tests, including:
- A chest x-ray
- A biopsy
- A computerized topography (CT) scan
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Positron emission tomography (PET)
Based upon your doctor’s findings, you may undergo further testing to make a diagnosis. As you might expect, the costs and complications of illness from asbestos are high. Not only are they a financial burden, they are physically, emotionally, and socially draining conditions.
If you receive an asbestos-related diagnosis, you should call a mesothelioma lawyer at Pintas and Mullins. We have resources that benefit those who have been harmed by asbestos, and we are happy to share this information with you and your loved ones.