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Asbestos Related Disease

Last updated on December 29th, 2020 at 02:00 pm

What is asbestos-related disease?

In order to prevent damage to our lungs, our body’s natural defence system filters and combats most of the particles we inhale, but asbestos fibres are different.  Tiny and sharp, asbestos dust penetrates deep into lung tissue, causing scarring, or fibrosis.

Asbestos exposure leads to several diseases, some of them life-threatening.

Because of the time lag between exposure and the onset of asbestos-related diseases, diagnoses are expected to continue to rise, from the current 2000 diagnoses per year, until 2020.

Who’s at risk of developing asbestos-related disease?

Those with the highest risk of developing an asbestos-related condition are people who directly handled asbestos in their jobs in the past, for example:

  • Workers applying or removing asbestos insulation (lagging)
  • Construction workers
  • Shipyard workers
  • Others in the building trade (roofers, joiners, painters, electricians, etc.)

Others at risk might include:

  • People involved in refurbishment and demolition who might have disturbed asbestos fibres contained in buildings
  • People who have shaken out and washed work clothes and inhaled the asbestos fibres – although this is very rare

What sorts of illnesses can result from exposure to asbestos?


Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer which has a long latency period; in some cases developing several decades after first inhaling the fibres. This incurable disease affects the lining of the lung or abdomen; it causes a great deal of discomfort for the sufferer.

Lung cancer

Certain forms of lung cancer are caused by exposure to asbestos. Anyone who develops lung cancer and knows that they have been exposed to asbestos in the past should consider making a claim for compensation, even if they are a smoker


The symptoms of asbestosis include shortness of breath – at first after heavy effort, and later at rest, a persistent cough, tightness of the chest, chest pains and spasms. Asbestosis can also result in ‘clubbing’ or swelling of the fingers and toes. It takes many years to develop this condition and disability increases over the years.

Pleural thickening

This is a condition where the pleural membrane that covers the lungs thickens, preventing them from expanding and contracting properly, and causing breathlessness.  As with pleural plaques, the sufferer would develop a more serious asbestos-related illness at a later stage.

Pleural plaques

Pleural plaques come about when asbestos fibres invade the pleura, or lining of the lung, causing it to become thickened and later calcified (hardened). Rarely disabling in themselves, these plaques indicate that the person is at risk of later developing a more serious asbestos-related condition.

Where is asbestos found?

Asbestos has been used in many types of products over the years, including:

  • Pipe and boiler lagging in power stations and other premises
  • Roofing sheets on buildings as well as gutters and pipes
  • Cement products
  • Train carriage products
  • Brake and clutch linings
  • Gas fires and ovens
  • Floor and ceiling tiles

Can I claim compensation?

If you’re suffering from an asbestos-related disease, or are a relative of someone who has died as a result of one, you may be able to claim compensation.

How and what can I claim?

Your claim will be against the employer(s) where the exposure took place.  You’ll have to show that the company was at fault in relation to your exposure to asbestos, or was in breach of its duty of care, for example by not providing masks or taking other steps to prevent the risk of exposure.

You may be able to recover compensation for your illness as well as losses or expenses incurred as a result of it.

What if the employer has gone out of business?

Due to the length of time between asbestos exposure and development of a disease, companies at which the exposure took place may have gone out of business.  Our experts can make searches to find out what has happened to the business and trace its insurers.

The Mesothelioma Act 2014 provides a fund from which some mesothelioma sufferers (or their families) who were diagnosed after 25 July 2012 can obtain compensation if their former employer has gone out of business. Our personal injury experts will advise you about this.

Time Limits

You will normally need to make a claim within 3 years of the date you became aware that you suffer from an asbestos-related condition. The court does have the discretion to allow cases to proceed outside that period although only in limited circumstances.  There are time limits that apply when the person exposed to asbestos has died. Please discuss this with one of our occupational illness experts who will advise on your own particular circumstances.

How can Graysons help?

Our occupational injury specialists, who have handled many cases, are experts in this field and can help with claims even if you don’t know who is responsible for your exposure.  We can pursue compensation claims against multiple employers if you were exposed in more than one job and can pursue claims where the employer no longer exists.

We can pursue claims where the person suffering from an asbestos-related disease has died and for those exposed to asbestos indirectly, for example by living close to a factory where asbestos was produced or used, or by washing asbestos contaminated overalls.

Our Sheffield Solicitors have an excellent track record in securing compensation for people who have worked in all types of industries.

Contact us now for a free initial consultation in which we can assess your case.

Read how Graysons won £150,000 compensation for the widow of a man who died of mesothelioma after working with asbestos at several companies during his career.

Read how partner,  Belinda Lancaster, has won compensation for some of her clients who have been exposed to asbestos:

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