Asbestos Exposure Now Linked to Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis

It has been well established that exposure to asbestos fibers and dust is linked to a deadly type of cancer known as mesothelioma, as well as lung cancer. According to recent report from London Imperial College News, asbestos exposure is now linked to a type of lung disease known as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).

woman-in-hospital-1051476-m.jpgIdiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is medical condition in which deep lung issue becomes thick and scarred. As the thickness of the lung tissue increases, the lungs lose their ability to transfer oxygen into the bloodstream. The internal organs, including the brain, cannot function properly without oxygen and begin to fail. As time goes by, the condition gets worse and the organ failure continues. The amount of time it takes to progress varies from person to person, but the condition is chronic and can eventually result in death.

Historically, while doctors were able to diagnose patients suffering from IPF, the cause was not known. It was only known that the condition typically affects patients who are middle-aged and older. However, this new research seems to point to asbestos exposure as least one major cause of the deadly lung disease. As our Boston attorneys who regularly represent people who become ill as a result of asbestos exposure understand, one of the most tragic aspects of the situation is that, even if a person knows they have been exposed to asbestos fibers, doctors have no way to remove them from the body, and the patient must simply wait for years or even decades and hope that they do not develop mesothelioma, lung cancer, or as we know now, IPF.

It should be noted that this is only a preliminary finding, and additional research will be required to conclusively establish that asbestos causes IPF, as has been proven with mesothelioma and lung cancer. According to this article, there appears to a geographic link to patients who suffer from IPF. Doctors are seeing a greater number of cases in regions that historically had shipyards and employed large numbers of workers in the shipping industry.

Asbestos is a found in one of six naturally occurring forms of the mineral silica. It is naturally resistant to heat, caustic chemicals, and electricity. For that reason, it was used in the manufacture of ships. The greatest danger posed to those in the shipping industry is a fire at sea. Asbestos presented a cheap and effective insulation material used in many aspects of ship construction.

Despite it being cheap and effective, it was not safe to the workers who built the ships or the workers who sailed the ships or loaded cargo. The shipping companies were well aware of the fact that asbestos was killing their workers, but they also knew it would take decades for the workers to develop symptoms, so they kept this information quiet. They decided that it was worth taking the risk that the workers would become and sick and die, or they would be sued decades later, because it was very profitable for them to keep on doing business as usual.

This failure to warn workers of a known danger is the basis for many of the asbestos lawsuits being filed across the country.

If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.

Additional resources:

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis cases linked with asbestos exposure, September 9, 2014, Imperial London College News
More Blog Entries:

Mesothelioma Lawsuits for Shipyard Workers, July 14, 2014, Boston Mesothelioma Lawyers Blog

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