Asbestos is a set of six naturally occurring minerals that were once widely used in many industries, but since the mid-1960s it has become known that exposure to the material can cause asbestosis, lung cancer and malignant mesothelioma. Due to the serious nature of these illnesses it can be essential for those who endure exposure to the carcinogenic substance to procure an asbestos settlement from the party responsible for their exposure. This asbestos settlement can help with the cost of treatment, or in the event that things take a turn for the worse, pay for hospice care and provide loved ones with security.
The use of asbestos dates back to the times of the ancient Greeks and Roman who considered the substance to be a "miracle mineral" because of its resistance to fire. However even thousands of years ago, scholars noted that those who worked with and mined the material had a tendency to die young.
Asbestos continued to be used throughout the centuries and its use accelerated during the 19th century's Industrial Revolution, according to the Stanford University's Department of Environmental Health and Safety. Many industries discovered that in addition to being useful as a flame retardant, asbestos could be used as an insulator. The use of the hazardous substance was widespread in the shipbuilding, auto maintenance and repair, construction and pipe-fitting industries, among others.
Many workers in these industries were exposed to asbestos on the job without proper protection and as a result have developed an asbestos-related disease. Most of these illnesses can take decades to manifest themselves and often when they do, they have progressed so far that the chance for a cure is not great. This is one of the reasons why an asbestos settlement can be essential so that one's family can be provided for if the worst happens.
However, there are still treatments for asbestos-related illnesses and an asbestos settlement can help pay for these.
Malignant mesothelioma is a rare cancer that occurs from exposure to asbestos. It attacks the thin membrane that lines the body's chest, abdomen and many of the body's internal organs. According to the Mayo Clinic, many treatments for this disease focus on keeping patients as comfortable as possible. Surgery is sometimes used in the treatment of mesothelioma and an asbestos settlement can be used to pay for this. Mesothelioma surgeries can be used to decrease fluid buildup in the chest or remove affected tissue or part of the cancer itself. In addition, chemo and radiation therapies can be used to treat the cancer, which 2,500 people in the U.S. develop every year, according to the National Cancer Institute.
An asbestos settlement can also help pay for the treatment of asbesotsis, which is "a breathing disorder caused by inhaling asbestos fibers," according to the Mayo Clinic.
Like mesothelioma, asbestosis often doesn't show signs of symptoms until decades after the asbestos exposure causes the disease. While there are no treatments to reverse the damage done by asbestosis, such as shortness of breath and chest pain, there are a number of treatments that can help alleviate symptoms. These include prescription inhalers, oxygen therapy and potentially even a lung transplant, all of which can be paid for by an asbestos settlement.
Many people who develop asbestos-related illnesses contracted the disease through no fault of their own, which is why it can be important to contact an asbestos attorney and see if they might be able to reach an asbestos settlement with the party responsible for their exposure.