Asbestos is a material made up of numerous mineral fibers that are chemically altered and/or treated. The substance was manufactured as an insulation, a building material and floor tiles. It has also been used in vehicle clutches and brakes. Many industries that used to work with the substance here in Louisiana and elsewhere discontinued its use due to toxic exposure caused by its microscopic fibers that are not visible to the naked eye.
Continuously breathing in those fibers is a significant health hazard. Over time, scar tissue can build up in the lungs, which could cause a disabling and ultimately fatal lung condition called asbestosis. Other people exposed to the substance could be diagnosed with a form of cancer called mesothelioma, which is also fatal.
There are no asbestos fibers that should be considered safe to be around. Any exposure can potentially be fatal — maybe not tomorrow, but ultimately. Some people could survive for years after being exposed to asbestos before symptoms of either asbestosis (or its related conditions) or mesothelioma manifest.
Even short-term exposure (only a few days) has led to mesothelioma. Due to the extreme toxicity of asbestos, The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency both regulate the substance and worker exposure to it closely. Employers must follow strict guidelines to eliminate their workers’ vulnerability since there is no level of exposure that is considered to be safe.
Louisiana workers who contract an asbestos-related condition due to toxic exposure are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. However, considering the dangerous nature of the substance and the plethora of regulations regarding it, an employer could be found to be grossly negligent. If this is the case, then filing a lawsuit against the employer might be in order.
Source: osha.gov, “Safety and Health Topics: Asbestos“, Accessed on July 30, 2016