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Asbestos Compensation Claim: The respiratory industrial diseases you can claim compensation for from your UK employer when exposed to dust in the workplace

Asbestos compensation claim: the dangers to your health of inhaling dust at work should not be underestimated - on this page you will learn about the occupationall diseases that you can develop in the workplace, including asbestosis, mesothelioma and silicosis which can form the basis of your industrial disease claim.

What is a dust related lung disease?

Many jobs, such as mining or stone cutting, require workers to be exposed to a large amount of dust all day. This dust can be very fine - if it reaches your lungs damage can be caused and over a long period of time this damage can lead to a lung disease.

How does your body attempt to stop dust reaching your lungs?

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Your body has a natural defence system designed to keep dust away from your lungs - little hairs called "cilia" line your nose and air passages leading to your lungs. These hairs are sticky - to catch most of the dust particles. In your air passages they move like a conveyor belt - taking trapped dust back up to your mouth where it can be harmlessly removed.

Your natural defence system is very effective, but can be overwhelmed by too much dust - such as when you work in a dusty environment. Over time dust reaches your lungs and builds up.

For example: Imagine you work in a mill manufacturing asbestos - surrounded all day by floating asbestos fibres and particles. If your employer doesn't supply you with the correct breathing protection it is easy to see how you will inhale large amounts of asbestos fibres every day and so overwhelm your natural defence system.

If you are a smoker be very careful of working in dusty environments - smoking can turn your natural defence system off greatly increasing the risk of lung disease.

Why does dust reaching your lungs cause damage?

Not all dusts are dangerous, but some dusts when they reach your lungs can cause irritation or a chemical reaction - both of which can lead to scarring of the lungs called "fibrosis". As time goes by the scarring becomes worse leading to lung disease.

What types of industrial disease are likely to form part of your asbestos compensation claim?

There are two types of lung disease that are likely to form part of your asbestos compensation claim:

1. Asbestosis

Scarring of your lungs caused by exposure to asbestos fibres over many years. As the lung scarring becomes worse you will notice shortness of breath, coughing and quite often weight loss.

Asbestosis can cause lung cancer.

2. Mesothelioma

A rare type of cancer - it can be caused by a single asbestos fibre becoming embedded in the thin lining, known as the "mesothelium", surrounding your internal organs. The asbestos fibre can cause a malignant tumour (an abnormal growth which doesn't respond to treatment) which is known as mesothelioma.

There are different types of mesothelioma depending on the lining of which organ is affected, for example:

"Pleural mesothelioma" - a tumour which developed from an asbestos fibre becoming embedded in the lining around the lungs.

"Pericardial mesothelioma" - a tumour which developed from an asbestos fibre becoming embedded in the sac surrounding the heart.

"Peritoneal mesothelioma" - a tumour which developed from an asbestos fibre becoming embedded in the lining surrounding the stomach.

What other dusts cause occupational lung disease?

Many other materials cause dust which can lead to lung disease, including:

1. Silica or quartz dust - causes silicosis.

This the most common form of lung disease from dust - quartz is one of the earth's most plentiful minerals. Most mining activities, even for other minerals such as gold or coal, will involve passing through a layer of quartz.

2. Beryllium dust - causes berylliosis

3. Barium sulphate dust - causes baritosis

4. Iron oxide dust - causes siderosis

5. Coal dust - causes coal workers' pneumoconiosis

6. Tin oxide dust - causes stannosis

If you work or have worked with any of these materials - no matter how many years ago - it is important you tell your GP so he can look for early lung disease symptoms which can often seem like something less serious such as a cold.

On this page you have seen why breathing in asbestos dust in the workplace can lead to an asbestos compensation claim, what asbestosis and mesothelioma actually are and the other materials that can cause lung disease.

Now you know the types of lung disease that can be caused by breathing in dust in the workplace, using an UK asbestos claim as an example, I recommend you:

Click industrial injury asbestos compensation claim to find out what you should do before starting a workplace "asbestos compensation claim".