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What are the symptoms of asbestos exposure?

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Symptoms of asbestos exposure include shortness of breath, loss of appetite, chest pain, a productive cough with mucus and chest tightness, according to WebMD. Repeated asbestos exposure can lead to mesothelioma and lung cancer, which produce symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, anemia, hoarseness and weight loss. Additional symptoms include abdominal swelling and pain, bowel obstruction, fever and unusual blood clotting.

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WebMD notes that asbestos exposure is shown to cause cancer in the throat, voice box, gallbladder, gastroinstinal tract, brain and kidneys. Additional lung complications may also arise as a result of asbestos exposure, including membrane growth and liquid accumulation in the chest cavity. According to WebMD, people who work in asbestos mines and installation sites are at the highest risk of developing health complications from exposure to the substance. Family members of these workers are also at an increased risk due to their exposure to workers' clothing and fibers that are brought home on the skin and hair. Asbestos is most harmful when it is inhaled for prolonged periods of time and when the fibers are especially large. Smokers and people with pre-existing lung conditions are especially affected by asbestos exposure. WebMD explains that symptoms of asbestos cancer, lung cancer and mesothelioma sometimes take as long as 30 years to manifest after exposure to the substance.

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