What are the Health & Safety Risks of Asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that is made up of microscopic, tiny fibres. When asbestos is damaged or disturbed, either in an asbestos-containing material or in its natural form, the fibres become airborne. When the fibres mix with the air, they can easily enter the human body through inhalation or breathing. The fibres might get trapped in the lungs and cause a number of serious and life-threatening health conditions.

Health effects of asbestos

It is difficult to destroy asbestos fibres once they mix with the air that you are breathing. Also, if you have inhaled the fibres, your body will not be able to remove them or break them down. The fibres will travel all the way to your lungs or remain lodged in the tissues of your body.

The primary health conditions associated with asbestos exposure are:

· Lung cancer

Lung cancer causes the most number of deaths related to exposure to asbestos. A change in breathing patterns and coughing are the most common symptoms of lung cancer. Hoarseness, persistent chest pains, shortness of breath and anaemia are other symptoms.

The chances of developing lung cancer greatly increase when smoking tobacco is combined with asbestos exposure.

· Asbestosis

Asbestosis is scarring of the lungs and this is caused due to inhaling asbestos fibres. Carbon dioxide and oxygen do not pass in and out easily when lungs are scarred. This makes breathing difficult and harder. Usually, asbestosis occurs in individuals who have had extremely high exposures to asbestos over a long time. However, some years may pass before the symptoms start to appear.

· Mesothelioma

This is a rare cancer of the membrane. It covers the chest cavity and lungs, membranes surrounding internal organs or the membrane lining of the abdominal cavity. The signs and symptoms of this rare cancer might not appear until thirty or forty years after asbestos exposure. But, this is a life-threatening condition, and therefore, you would not want to put yourself in danger by inhaling asbestos.

· Pleural disease

This is a non-cancerous condition of the lungs that causes major changes to the membrane surrounding the lungs and also the pleura or chest cavity. The membrane might become thicker in isolated areas or throughout. Fluid might also build up in the lungs. Some people suffering from pleural disease might have difficulty breathing and lung function might become less efficient.

Additionally, asbestos exposure can also cause cancer of the ovary and larynx.

Concerned about asbestos exposure? Here’s what you should do

First, you need to call the professionals to survey your property or building and find out if there are any asbestos-containing materials. If there are traces of asbestos, you need to avail of asbestos removal services immediately and free your site of this hazardous material.

Second, if you feel that you have been already exposed to asbestos, you should immediately visit your doctor. The healthcare provider will conduct a thorough physical exam and decide if additional testing is needed.

For more information, contact asbestos removal experts.

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