When Does Asbestos Pose A Health Concern?
Asbestos is a hazardous material that should be avoided at all costs. People who come into contact with asbestos, on the other hand, do not necessarily experience health concerns. But, asbestos can pose a health concern depending on many factors:
- What is the amount of asbestos in the air?
- How often and for how long are you exposed?
- How long has it been since you were first exposed?
- Whether the person has any existing lung or breathing problems, and
- Whether the individual is a cigarette smoker
Breathing asbestos can cause small asbestos fibres to get trapped in the lungs, irritating lung tissue. According to scientific studies, inhaling asbestos can cause the following non-cancerous diseases:
- Breathing asbestos fibres causes scarring in the lungs, which is known as asbestosis. As oxygen and carbon dioxide cannot readily flow in or out of damaged lungs, breathing becomes difficult.
- Asbestosis generally develops in persons who have been exposed to high levels of asbestos for a lengthy period of time, but symptoms may not show for years.
- Non-cancerous lung condition that affects the membrane covering the lungs and chest cavity is called Pleural Disease (PD) (pleura). Breathing issues are not a given for everyone with pleural abnormalities, although some may have impaired lung function.
Asbestos exposure also raises the risk of some cancers, including:
- Lung cancer is a cancerous tumour that invades and clogs the airways of the lungs. When tobacco use is coupled with asbestos exposure, the risk of lung cancer skyrockets.
- Mesothelioma is a rare malignancy that infects the membrane that surrounds the lungs and chest cavity named pleura, along with the membrane that borders the abdominal cavity which is the peritoneum that surrounds other internal organs. Mesothelioma symptoms may not manifest themselves for 30 to 40 years after asbestos exposure.
Asbestos exposure can cause cancer of the larynx and ovary in addition to lung cancer and mesothelioma. Asbestos exposure may potentially cause cancer of the throat, stomach, and colorectum, according to current research.
When Does Asbestos Pose A Health Concern?
Asbestos cannot be removed from the lungs after exposure. Preventing additional damage to the respiratory system can reduce the likelihood of illness development or decrease the progression of an existing condition.
Preventive care guidelines related to asbestos exposure include:
- Having regular medical exams
- Getting frequent flu and pneumococcal pneumonia immunizations
- Quitting smoking
- Avoiding further asbestos exposure
How are people exposed to asbestos?
Asbestos can be ingested in a variety of ways, including:
- Inhaling asbestos: Most exposures arise from inhaling asbestos fibres in the air. This can happen while mining and processing asbestos, manufacturing asbestos-containing products, or while installing asbestos insulation. It can also happen when older structures are removed or rebuilt, or when older asbestos-containing materials start to fail. Asbestos fibres tend to produce dust made up of microscopic particles that can float in the air in any of these scenarios.
- Swallowing asbestos: Asbestos fibres can be swallowed as well. This can occur when people eat contaminated food or beverages (such as water that flows through asbestos cement pipes). It can also happen when people swallow their saliva after coughing up asbestos they’ve inhaled.
Most of the people are exposed to very low levels of naturally occurring asbestos in outdoor air. This is more likely in locations where the rocks contain more asbestos. Asbestos has been found in both the water supply and the air in some regions. It enters the water from a wide range of sources, including rock or soil erosion, asbestos cement pipe corrosion, or the degradation of asbestos-containing roofing materials that then enter the sewage after rain.
Those who worked in asbestos industries such as shipbuilding and insulation, on the other hand, had the highest levels of exposure. Many of these individuals recall working in dense clouds of asbestos dust on a daily basis. As asbestos fibres can be taken home on the workers’ clothing and inhaled by others in the home, family members of asbestos workers may also be exposed to high levels of asbestos.
In older buildings, asbestos exposure is also a concern. As asbestos-containing building components (such as older insulation and ceiling and floor tiles) decompose over time, asbestos fibres can be detected in indoor air and may pose a health concern.
Advice For People Concerned About Asbestos Exposure
People who are concerned about asbestos exposure should consult their doctor or any medical professional. The doctor will determine whether more testing is required or not based on the person’s comprehensive exposure and medical history, as well as a physical exam.
Asbestos cannot be removed from the lungs after exposure. But, preventing future damage to the respiratory system can reduce the likelihood of illness development or slow the progression of an existing condition.