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The deadly ties between asbestos and mesothelioma

Some Pennsylvania workers are exposed to hazards periodically or regularly while on the job. Pottstown employers are obligated to take the necessary precautions to prevent workplace illnesses caused by these dangers, whether that means monitoring workspace air quality or providing employees with protective gear.

Doctors and health officials know more today than they ever have about the occupational hazards. Workplace safety rules in place today were not as plentiful in years past. Workers labored in jobs they didn't realize put them at risk of serious and sometimes fatal medical conditions like mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is an uncommon form of cancer with direct links to asbestos exposure. Asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral with properties that make the substance attractive for commercial purposes. Manufacturers have found multiple uses for asbestos in everything from brakes to building materials.

Asbestos mineral fibers become airborne when disturbed. A worker who breathes in or swallows asbestos fibers in a large, short burst or in smaller doses over time has an elevated risk of developing mesothelioma. Even cases of secondhand asbestos exposure have been recorded.

The asbestos-related disease strikes the linings or mesothelium of internal organs, predominantly the lungs, although the abdomen, heart and testicles also can be affected. The fibers settle inside the body, apparently without causing any immediate problems. Symptoms of mesothelioma may not appear for three or four decades after exposure, when medical treatment can provide little benefit for the victim.

There is no cure for malignant mesothelioma, but there are benefits and legal remedies available for victims of asbestos-related illnesses and their families. Workers' compensation benefits are paid to employees who suffer occupational illnesses and injuries. In addition, attorneys can help file injury claims against negligent parties for damages.

Since mesothelioma often surfaces as a late-stage cancer, legal actions that begin as personal injury cases sometimes become wrongful death lawsuits before a claim is resolved.

Source: Mayo Clinic, "Mesothelioma," accessed July 02, 2015

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