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Asbestos – A dirty word?

Asbestos – A dirty word?

By: John Kilmister

Tags: Asbestos, Litigation, Personal Injury

Many people are familiar with the word asbestos, and know that it can be very dangerous and can cause health problems,  but there can be a lot of misunderstanding about the specific medical conditions that exposure to asbestos can cause.

In particular many people only associate exposure to asbestos with the condition Asbestosis, and don’t appreciate that there are also  a number of other conditions that can be caused by exposure to asbestos and for which it may be possible to claim compensation.

The five conditions that are recognised as being caused by exposure to asbestos are:-

  • Pleural plaques
  • Pleural thickening
  • Asbestosis
  • Lung cancer
  • Mesothelioma

Pleural plaques is scarring to the lining of the lungs and appears on x-rays.  As with all asbestos-related conditions it takes a very long time to develop after the sufferer is  first exposure to asbestos. In the vast majority of cases it is symptomless and benign and although recognised as being caused by exposure to asbestos, following a decision of (what was then) the House of Lords in 2007, compensation can no longer be claimed just for pleural plaques.

Pleural thickening is more serious than pleural plaques.  This is where the lining of the lungs are affected, and fluid can build up.  It can affect the sufferer’s ability to respirate (limiting the physical movement of the lungs) and so can cause breathlessness.

Asbestosis is also scarring but this time of the internal lung structure.  The condition was first identified in 1924 and was the first condition to be identified as being caused by exposure to asbestos (hence its name). 

Lung cancer is of course familiar to all of us.  It is most commonly associated with smoking but what is less widely known is that it can also be caused by exposure to asbestos.  It is believed that lung cancer may be the UK’s biggest industrial killer but, because of the long established link with smoking, it is very often not recorded as having been caused or linked to exposure to asbestos.  The fact that a sufferer is, or has been, a smoker,  does not prevent them from claiming for compensation for exposure to asbestos leading to lung cancer.

Mesothelioma is a cancer which affects the lining of the lungs or the diaphragm.  The only known cause is exposure to asbestos, and even small amounts of asbestos can cause the condition.  This is why there are cases that have been brought not just for people who have worked with asbestos (and been heavily exposed to it) but also by some who have not worked with it but have just been exposed to low levels, for example, where someone worked with asbestos, family members may have been exposed through washing dusty overalls, leading to the condition.  

If you believe you may suffer from one of these  conditions  as a result of exposure to asbestos, you may have a claim for compensation for the exposure to asbestos. It is important that you seek specialist legal advice as soon as possible.  At FDC Law we have extensive experience of undertaking claims for those who have been exposed to asbestos and can act for you on a “no win, no fee” basis. 

Please contact John Kilmister on 01373 463311 or by e-mail on



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