Asbestosis Compensation Claims
Asbestosis is a progressive crippling respiratory disease that was first found in naval shipyard workers. It is caused by inhalation of asbestos fibres and usually strikes workers in the shipbuilding / ship repairing, textile, cement and insulating industries.
Serious asbestosis is usually caused by heavy exposure to large quantities of asbestos fibres. Either a sustained exposure over a period of years (e.g. a long time worker at an asbestos textile plant) and/or intense exposure for a shorter period (e.g. a worker in the boiler or engine rooms of ships under construction.) The specific type of asbestos fibre to which the worker was exposed does not seem to be significant in the development of asbestosis.
How is Asbestosis Caused?
When someone breathes in airborne asbestos fibres they become trapped in their lungs. The body tries to dissolve the asbestos fibres by producing acid. The acid does little to damage the asbestos fibres since they are very durable and chemically inert. Unfortunately the acid does cause irritation and inflammation of the cells in the lungs and may scar and thicken the surrounding tissue. Eventually a “fibrosis” or scar tissue develops in the spaces around the small airways and the tiny sacks at the end of your bronchial tubes called “alveoli”. The alveoli are where the oxygen from the air enters your blood, and the carbon dioxide from your body goes into the air. Alveoli are very tiny, but you have a lot of them in your lungs. The thickening and scarring caused by the asbestos fibres prevents oxygen and carbon dioxide from travelling between the alveoli and the blood cells, so breathing becomes much less efficient.
Over a period of many years this damage may become so severe that the lungs cannot function. The “latency period”, that is to say the time it takes for the disease to develop, is very long (25 to 40 years).