For many people asbestos exposure is not an issue. For example, I had asbestos siding on my garage, and one afternoon I tore it all off of there. I took the proper precautions, but didnt worry too much about it because a few hours of exposure is not create the lasting, and devastating, effects that we hear about. Asbestos exposure requires day after day of exposure for many years on end.
For the majority of the 20th century, buildings were built with asbestos products. These products helped to insulate, protect, form a fire proof barrier, and guard against chemical spills. They worked remarkably well to help keep fire and heat where it belonged. They also had a tendency to cause asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma, and a number of other cancers.
The way it worked was like this. Asbestos was mixed with a concrete like substance. This substance was used to wrap pipes, insulate walls, and a variety of other methods throughout the building. However, as the asbestos transite, as it is called, aged, it would start to break down. Sort of how if you leave foam or rubber in the sunshine it starts to deteriorate. As the workers in the factories would clean these pipes, the transite would flake off and cause dust that was inhaled. Included in this dust were particles of asbestos that would become lodged in the workers lungs.
This work related injury happened on the job, but the symptoms dont show up for many years after the fact. Think of it this way: if you slipped and broke your leg because your employee left a large puddle of water on the floor, would you just sigh and pay the medical bills? Of course not, you would file a workers comp claim. Likewise, if your employer subjected you to asbestos exposure that caused you to get cancer, would you just sigh and suffer through it? Of course not, you would want compensation.
Those who have suffered from asbestos exposure 30 or 40 years ago are now going through a painful ordeal because of that exposure. Fortunately there are large trust funds set aside for them to be compensated. If you have developed any of the cancers listed on this page, or mesothelioma, asbestosis, or lung cancer, you should seek compensation.