The physical nature of working on the high seas carries assumed risks. Exposure to toxic or dangerous substances is often overlooked, and more challenging to avoid. This is a risk that is not uncommon in an industry that often deals with oil and natural gases. Many workers suffer inhalation injuries and exposure to chemical fumes, vapors, or even the product itself. If you or a loved one lives with lung disease at sea or you are injured or ill at offshore, contact The Zehl & Associates to speak with an experienced offshore injury lawyer.
Lung disease is essentially any problem that prevents the lungs from working properly. The classification of lung disease is broken down as follows:
Airway diseases: These types of diseases affect the tubes that allow breathing. They generally cause a narrowing or blockage of the airways. Those with airway disease describe feeling as if they are trying to breathe through a straw. Examples of this disease include asthma, COPD, and bronchiectasis.
Lung Tissue Diseases: Lung tissue disease affects the structure of the lung tissue. Scarring and inflammation of the tissue prevent the lungs from fully expanding. As a result, deep breathing is unlikely for people living with lung tissue disease. Those with lung tissue conditions describe feeling like wearing a sweater or vest that is too tight. Examples of this type of lung disease include pulmonary fibrosis and sarcoidosis.
Diseases of the pulmonary circulation: These diseases affect the blood vessels in the lungs. Often, clotting, scarring, or inflammation in the blood vessels indicates this condition. These diseases affect the ability of the lungs to take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide, and often affect heart function. An example of pulmonary circulation disease is pulmonary hypertension.
Silicosis: Silicosis is a lung disease caused by breathing small fragments of silica, a mineral that is part of sand, rock, and minerals. In addition to toxic chemicals, offshore workers are at risk of developing this form of lung disease. Marine workers using sandblasting or clean oxide are exposed to crystalline silica dust.
Silicosis is classified as a carcinogen and can lead to:
Bronchitis / Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder
Increased risk of kidney disease
Asbestosis: Asbestosis is another chronic disease of the lungs caused by inhaling asbestos particles. Severe fibrosis and a high risk of mesothelioma are markers of the condition. Prolonged exposure to fibers that cause scarring of the lung tissue and difficulty breathing. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and generally do not appear until several years after continuous exposure.
Most cases of asbestosis occurred on the job before the federal government began regulating the use of asbestos and asbestos-related products in the 1970s.
The effects of prolonged asbestos exposure generally do not manifest for 10 to 40 years after the initial exposure. Signs of asbestosis include:
Short of breath
Persistent dry cough
Loss of appetite with weight loss
Finger tips and toes that appear wider and rounder than normal (clubbing)
Offshore workers are at risk of exposure to a host of toxic chemicals and hazardous materials. Workers are at risk of inhaling these dangerous substances and developing serious lung diseases. If you live with lung disease or know someone who is, contact the Zehl & Associates to discuss your case. An offshore injury attorney can guide you through the legal process.
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