Asbestosis and Related Diseases


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Asbestosis

Asbestosis or scarring of the lungs is caused by long-term exposure to asbestos fibres. It usually progresses slowly and can cause severe breathlessness. There is no known treatment. The effects of asbestosis can take around 10-20 years from the time of first exposure until it is detected.

“Symptoms of asbestosis include shortness of breath, coughing, tightness in the chest and chest pain.”

Those most at risk of contracting asbestosis are those who have been involved in the handling or removal of asbestos. Specifically, dockyard workers and those involved in the shipbuilding industry are at significant risk.

It is also possible that individuals living with people who have come into contact with asbestosis to also be at potential risk by coming into contact with asbestosis fibres found on clothing.

Mesothelioma

This is a rare type of cancer which may be caused by exposure to asbestos fibres. The risk of developing the disease depends largely on how much asbestos fibres have been breathed in. The greater the contact with asbestos fibres, the greater the risk is of developing mesothelioma. The development of the disease can take between 10-20 years, after initial exposure to asbestos fibres.

Symptoms include shortness of breath, persistent coughing and pain in the chest.

Non-Malignant Pleural Disease

This is a non-cancerous condition that affects the outer lining of the lung. The most likely cause of this condition is exposure to asbestos fibres in the workplace over a number of years. There are two types of disease, namely diffuse pleural thickening and pleural plaques.

Pleural Thickening

Pleural thickening is commonly linked to asbestosis which is caused by exposure to asbestos fibres.  The pleural membranes are thin membranes that cover the lungs and provide protection and support. When exposed to asbestos fibres, the pleural membranes thicken as a result of chronic irritation and inflammation that asbestosis fibres cause when they settle in the lungs.

Symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pains and tightness. Pleural thickening can also cause extreme psychological stress because sufferers are constantly living in fear of developing a more serious asbestosis-related illness.

Pleural Plaques

Pleural plaques differ from pleural thickening in that they are more localised areas of pleural thickening. This condition is the least serious asbestos-related disease as generally, the sufferer does not have any specific symptoms. There is, however, an extremely low risk of developing a more serious asbestosis-related illness in the future.

It is not possible to claim compensation for pleural plaques in England and Wales at the present time. On 25 February 2010, the Government made it clear that it would not overturn the House of Lords decision which held that sufferers were not entitled to compensation although they did agree to reassess the situation should new evidence come to light. The Government did, however, agree to offer a payment of £5,000 to individuals who had pleural plaques and who had begun compensation claims before the ruling in October 2007. It is not possible to submit an application now as the deadline for such applications passed on 1 August 2011.

If you have been diagnosed with asbestosis or a related disease (except pleural plaques) which you believe may have been caused by past employment, you may be entitled to claim compensation.  Legal aid is not available for these types of claims and we therefore offer assistance under a No Win No Fee Agreement. For free legal advice, contact our specialist Personal Injury team on 023 9248 3322 (Havant) or on 023 80 631111 (Southampton). Alternatively, complete the response e-mail slip.