It is primarily because of these qualities that asbestos has been widely used for construction purposes throughout the last century. It was only towards the end of the century that hazards related to Asbestos exposure came into light and people started getting aware of the health dangers that are associated. However, by the time harmful effects of Asbestos were highlighted, millions were already exposed to Asbestos. This has led to huge Asbestos claims as well as the thriving industry that is dedicated to removal of Asbestos.
In short, exposure to Asbestos is extremely harmful for our body and can lead to terrible health problems. This resilient material that was heavily used for construction, fireproofing and installation has the capability of breaking down into minute fragments that are competent enough to wreck mayhem if inhaled.
Types Of Asbestos
Three kinds of Asbestos are primarily found. These are:
• the white asbestos (chrysotile)
• the blue asbestos (crocidolite)
• the brown asbestos (amosite)
Chrysotile asbestos is the most used type of asbestos and it is curly twisted in shape. Amosite asbestos and Crocidolite Asbestos are also very common and tend to have straight, needle like fibers.
A variety of sicknesses ranging from lung irritation and coughing to some malignant form of cancers can be asbestos-related. Asbestos syndrome is prevalence of any such symptoms. Health problems related to Asbestos generally result from the airborne fibers that are inhaled by people unknowingly.
How Asbestos Affects Our Bodies
As soon as asbestos gets broken or distributed, it gets mixed into air in the form of small fibers which can be easily inhaled and get transferred to the lung area. Fibers of asbestos are incredibly fine and are capable of escaping into airways through lungs. As soon as fibers enter the lung area, the natural defense system of the body works to break them further. This can cause further problems and lead to inflammation of lung cells.
The minute fibers of Asbestos may even pass through the lung tissues to the outer lining, replacing healthy tissues with damaged scar tissue. This can lead to several lung diseases including mesothelioma cancer.
Upon being ingested, minute fibers of Asbestos may get stuck inside the digestive tract. They may further transfer to the outer lining from the peritoneum or the abdomen, causing thickening and inflammation.
Mesothelioma cancer is the most dreadful symptom of exposure to asbestos. However, it usually develops after long time contact with asbestos. Development of mesothelioma cancer may take anytime between 10 and 60 years. Mesothelioma cancer is not contagious and it may not necessarily be caused due to asbestos exposure. It is a condition that may even be caused due to long exposure to radiation and inherited genes.
Photo Credit: 4mesothelioma-cancer.com
However, an extended contact with asbestos may trigger development of a tumor on the mesothelium. Mesothelium is essentially a thin membrane that lines all the major organs. On contact with Asbestos particles, healthy cells on the mesothelium may start to regenerate and cause cancers tumors.
Asbestos fibers may even lead to DNA damage. It has been found out that exposure to Asbestos may lead to creation of free radicals. Free radicals are essentially unstable molecules that exist independently and have the capability of bonding with other molecules. Asbestos fibers create free radicals that may bond with DNA molecules causing changes in DNA ourselves further reading to mutations and eventually cancer.
Who Is At Risk?
Although unknowingly but a large number of people have already been exposed to dangers of Asbestos. Low levels of Asbestos are also present in water, air and soil but the concentration is not so high that it can cause health problems. Those people who have worked with Asbestos on regular basis are at the highest risk of developing a disease that is related to Asbestos. People who have previously worked in shipbuilding, demolition, firefighting and drywall removal are known to be at risk of developing Asbestos related cancers.
Symptoms Of Asbestos-Related Diseases
In case you suspect that you have been exposed to Asbestos or have developed a disease related to Asbestos, look out for following symptoms. The symptoms include wheezing, shortness of breath, persistent worsening cough, hoarseness, tightening in chest, pain in chest, and blood in the sputum that is coughed from the lungs. Those fearing Asbestos related disease may even feel anemic and fatigued and may also suffer with loss of appetite, difficulty in swallowing and swelling in face or neck.
Treatment Of Asbestos Related Sicknesses
As discussed before, the most dreadful disease that can be caused due to Asbestos exposure is mesothelioma cancer. It hasn’t found that approximately 70 to 80 percent of all new mesothelioma cancer cases are due to Asbestos exposure.
The treatment of Asbestos related sicknesses depends on the health problem and for how long the problem has persisted. In case of Asbestos cancer, the treatment depends on the location as well as stage of the cancer. The treatment may even involve removal of the organ that has been affected, and chemotherapy and radiation therapy in some cases.
Ways To Protect Yourself From Asbestos Dangers
In case you suspect that you have been exposed to Asbestos fibers, it is very important that you contact a professional Asbestos inspector immediately. You must also take the recommended medical tests and rule out possibility of the associated dangers.
US EPA states that Asbestos that has been used in home construction and is undamaged is not likely to cause any health problems. In case, the homeowner wants to remove asbestos, it’s very important to contract a qualified contractor. You may check with local authority and find a list of Asbestos removal firms that have been approved to do the job. Most of the developed nations have banned mining of asbestos including Croatia, Chile, European Union, Argentina, Australia and Saudi Arabia. In United States, there are very strict rules against use of Asbestos. However, the best ways to avoid the effects of Asbestos is by learning how Asbestos affects our bodies and what steps should be taken in case of Asbestos exposure.