Latency Period of Asbestos-Related Diseases
Asbestos related diseases have a very long latency period. This is the time frame from when you are first exposed to asbestos until you become ill. Most persons do not become ill for at least ten years after exposure and some not until over forty years later. Asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma are all asbestos related diseases. Asbestosis occurs when asbestos fibers enter the lungs. The body will naturally produce an acid to combat the fibers. However, this acid can cause scarring in the tissue of the lungs and in advanced stages breathing becomes more difficult and painful. Asbestosis was first documented in shipyard workers. Asbestos can also cause lung cancer. If a person smokes and is exposed to asbestos, they have a much greater chance of developing lung cancer. Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that has only been linked to asbestos exposure. It is a cancer of the cells that line the peritoneum (the area surrounding the abdominal organs) and pleura (area outside of the lungs and the inside of the ribs).