What Is Asbestos Poisoning? Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Close up look of asbestos fibers

Asbestos poisoning can refer to many illnesses that are caused by exposure to asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral that was used in over 3,000 products across various industries, from construction materials and automotive parts to textiles and even household goods.

For much of the 20th century, many companies that made or sold products with asbestos actively concealed the risks of this dangerous mineral from their workers and the public, potentially putting millions at risk.

As a national asbestos law firm with over 45 years of experience, Sokolove Law has helped thousands of asbestos exposure victims and their families pursue compensation and hold the companies responsible for their illnesses accountable.

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How Do You Get Asbestos Poisoning?

Asbestos poisoning occurs when airborne asbestos fibers are inhaled or ingested and an illness develops as a result.

Asbestos dust can be released into the air following any action — like cutting, drilling, sanding, or replacing products — that disturbs or damages asbestos-containing materials. Once airborne, the microscopic fibers pose a significant health risk to anyone nearby.

Employees who worked with asbestos may have unknowingly had fibers settle on their clothing or hair. When workers returned home, these fibers could be released into the air again, leading to secondhand asbestos exposure and potentially endangering the health of their family members.

What Asbestos Poisoning Does to the Body

There is no safe level of asbestos exposure. Once inhaled or swallowed, asbestos can enter the lungs, digestive system, and other areas of the body — but the body can’t process it. Instead, the fibers remain, causing damage over time.

“Whenever these fibers migrate, they leave a trail of damaged or compromised cells behind.”
– Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation

Over the course of decades, the irritation caused by the asbestos fibers may lead to the development of potentially severe diseases.

Potential asbestos-related diseases include:

  • Asbestosis: This noncancerous disease can cause severe scarring to build up in the lungs making it difficult to breathe. As scarring continues to build up, the lungs stiffen, which can sometimes be fatal.
  • Lung cancer: Asbestos is responsible for between 8,000 and 10,000 lung cancer deaths each year, according to the Environmental Working Group.
  • Mesothelioma: Approximately 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year, with one-third of cases often involving U.S. veterans.
  • Other asbestos-related cancers: Exposure to asbestos may lead to an increased risk of other cancers throughout the body, including ovarian cancer, throat cancer, and more.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, Sokolove Law may be able to help your family access financial compensation for treatment. Contact us now to get started.

Who Is Most at Risk of Asbestos Poisoning?

Workers at the highest risk of asbestos poisoning are those who dedicated their careers to roles that involved regular interactions with asbestos-containing materials, oftentimes trade workers.

Some of these high-risk occupations include:

Even if they retired years ago, many of these workers may still be at risk of developing diseases linked to asbestos poisoning. It's important to be aware of the risks and talk with your doctor if asbestos poisoning symptoms develop.

What Are the First Signs of Asbestos Poisoning?

Since decades may pass before victims first develop asbestos poisoning symptoms, many people may not even realize when or how they were first exposed to asbestos.

Some common symptoms of asbestos poisoning may include:

  • Chest pain
  • Persistent cough
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble breathing
  • Weight loss

However, symptoms of asbestos poisoning may vary since it can cause several different illnesses.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, talk with your doctor as soon as possible and mention your potential exposure to asbestos. They can do screening tests to determine if you may have an asbestos-related disease.

Asbestos Poisoning Treatment Options

Many asbestos poisoning victims may be able to improve their quality of life and live longer by seeking treatment. Depending on the patient’s diagnosis, overall health, and more, asbestos poisoning treatment options will vary and could involve several different care methods.

For noncancerous conditions like asbestosis, treatment may include:

  • Pulmonary rehabilitation, which focuses on strengthening the lungs
  • Supplemental oxygen, which can be received through a portable tank

Treatments for asbestos-related cancer may follow standard cancer treatment protocols that involve chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, or a combination of these options.

Sadly, treatment can be costly, and insurance often doesn’t cover everything. Families affected by asbestos-related diseases may be able to secure compensation in several ways — and Sokolove Law may be able to help.

Sokolove Law: Fighting for Asbestos Poisoning Victims for Over 45 Years

No family should have to deal with the financial strain and medical uncertainty of asbestos poisoning alone. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, our asbestos exposure lawyers are here to help.

For over 45 years, Sokolove Law has been dedicated to fighting for those diagnosed with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. We’ve recovered over $5.4 Billion for asbestos victims nationwide.

Victims and their families may be able to access compensation from multiple options:

  • Asbestos trust funds: Asbestos-related companies were forced to create trusts to pay the victims of their dangerous products. There is still an estimated $30 Billion available in trusts today.
  • Mesothelioma lawsuits: Families may be able to hold the companies responsible for their asbestos exposure accountable by taking legal action. Mesothelioma lawsuits are often resolved outside of court, with average settlements falling between $1 Million and $1.4 Million.
  • VA benefits: Veterans and their families may be eligible for monthly compensation and health care benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

The money secured from these options can help your family pay for treatment and recover some peace of mind during this difficult time.

See if we can help your family now with a free legal case review.

Sokolove Law Team

Contributing Authors

The Sokolove Law Content Team is made up of writers, editors, and journalists. We work with case managers and attorneys to keep site information up to date and accurate. Our site has a wealth of resources available for victims of wrongdoing and their families.

Last modified: February 14, 2024

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  2. Asbestos Nation. “Asbestos kills 12,000-15,000 people per year in the U.S.” Retrieved from: https://www.asbestosnation.org/facts/asbestos-kills-12000-15000-people-per-year-in-the-u-s/. Accessed on October 18, 2023.
  3. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). “Learn About Asbestos.” Retrieved from: https://www.epa.gov/asbestos/learn-about-asbestos. Accessed on October 18, 2023.
  4. Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation. “Inflammatory Immune Response to Asbestos Fibers.” Retrieved from: https://www.curemeso.org/understanding-mesothelioma/mesothelioma-development/mesothelioma-causes-inflammatory-immune-response-asbestos-fibers/. Accessed on October 18, 2023.
  5. National Cancer Institute. “Asbestos.” Retrieved from: https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/substances/asbestos. Accessed on October 18, 2023.