Asbestosis has long been regarded as a disease that is indicative of heavy exposure to asbestos. The first recorded cases were seen among people who spent their whole working day exposed to large amounts of dust across periods amounting to many years and, in many cases, decades of exposure.
As such, employers predicted that the dust control measures that were introduced in asbestos factories as result of the Asbestos Industry Regulations 1931 would stem the tide of asbestosis cases; yet despite this optimism cases continued to appear.
An evolving understanding
It was only later that scientists began to fully appreciate that lower or less concentrated exposure over a longer period could also cause the disease.
It also became apparent that taking the worker away from further exposure would not necessarily prevent the disease from developing or, if it was already present, from becoming progressively worse.
Studies of cases of asbestosis have almost always focused on workers in asbestos factories or on thermal insulation engineers, known as "laggers". These types of worker will inevitably have experienced longer and more concentrated exposure.
The effects of long term light exposure or of intermittent exposure in other occupations have, historically, been both less well studied and less well understood.
However, research published between the 1960's and the mid 1980's contributed significantly to acceptance of the fact that even only relatively limited total exposure can cause asbestosis to develop.
Experts still agree that asbestosis is typically associated with heavier and more prolonged exposure to asbestos than other asbestos related diseases, such as mesothelioma, pleural plaques and diffuse pleural thickening; however, it is also accepted that there are many more grey areas than previously thought.
One thing is certain, asbestosis is caused by asbestos fibres becoming lodged in the lungs and causing damage over time and although exposure to a high number of the fibres increases the risk that a person will develop the illness, relatively limited exposure is no guarantee of good health in the future.
Asbestos claims in Scotland
Whether you worked in insulation, boilermaking, plumbing, pipefitting or some other industrial setting in which use of asbestos is, or was, widespread call our Industrial Disease lawyers today on 0800 0891331 for more information on making a compensation claim.
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