The Major Facts on the Health Dangers of Asbestos
Asbestos refers to a group of mineral materials that were previously used in the manufacture of building materials. These building materials that were stable and non-friable; therefore, they didn’t pose harm to the public. However, when the asbestos fibers are released into the air, they causes numerous health risks such as cancer. It was banned in Australia in the year 2003. Currently, it is illegal to sell any products containing asbestos.
How does one get exposed to asbestos?
It is important to note that the material containing asbestos that had been manufactured before the 2003 ban is still present. Due to wear and tear, the materials become unstable and start to release micro fibers into the air. Therefore, these materials continuously expose people to asbestos. However, breathing in negligible asbestos dust is not risky. Instead, continued exposure to high levels of asbestos is dangerous. Asbestos gets into the body through inhalation and sometimes through drinking contaminated water. As such, the people who continuously inhale large doses through contaminated dust and debris are at a significant risk of developing the related health complications.
How can asbestos affect your health?
The micro asbestos fibers find their way into the lungs. After continued inhalation, they start to cause inflammation and scarring. It starts to cause breathing problems and other related lung complications. Other health effects include pleural plaques, asbestosis, pleural thickening and much more.
Who is at risk?
Asbestos poses a considerable amount of health risk to the people who continuously inhale it. Workers in the asbestos industry are also at risk as they are constantly in contact with the material. Companies like Pro Asbestos Removal Sydney use the latest safety equipment for all staff members and run monthly safety audits on all their equipment. This is recommended for all asbestos removal companies in Australia. Other high risk places include the following:
- Manufacturer of construction materials such as abrasive
- Asbestos mining
- Automobile manufacture and assembly sites
- Asbestos textile companies
- Chemical plants manufacturing materials such as pipes
- Maritime companies
- Oil refineries
The Professionals with the highest risk include:
- Drywall removers
- Demolition workers
- Construction workers
- Asbestos Removalists
These with all the employees from the companies named above stand an increased risk of developing asbestos-related complications. It is worthwhile to note that danger of developing complications is higher to people who smoke.
Asbestos Related Health Problems
According to most health experts, asbestos-related complication usually appears 10-50 years after the first time exposure. Some of the complications include:
It is a lung inflammation condition in which cause scarring of the lungs. The scarring causes the alveolus hard and stiff preventing them from functioning efficiently. One starts to experience difficulties in breathing, chest pains, and persistent coughing. There is no cure for this condition.
It refers to malignancy in the pleura and eventually spreads to the other parts of the lungs. This form of rare cancer has no cure and takes up to 30-40 years to develop after exposure. Australia has the highest number of people diagnosed with this cancer in the world.
The lung cancer that is caused by asbestos is similar to the other cancers resulting from other products such as smoking. The tumor grows in the lungs and blocks the airways.
The extended exposure to asbestos can cause partial scarring of the pleural; also known as pleural plaques. When the scarring is more widespread, the pleural thickens. These conditions are not cancerous in nature. They also might not present gross health effects. However, they also reduce the efficiency of the lungs and occasionally cause discomfort.
How to protect yourself from exposure
- Citizens should abide by the regulations laid down by the Department of Immigration and Border protection against the importation of asbestos products.
- Cover any material that contains asbestos to prevent its exposure to children and adults. These include plastic sheets, toys, electrical fittings and such.
- Spray any dust that might contain asbestos with water to prevent it from being blown away.
- Do not enter into the roof cavity or other any enclosed areas that were constructed using asbestos without the appropriate gear.
- When working in areas which have a likelihood of having high asbestos content in the air, always wear safety gear that satisfies the Australian Standards.
- The people are at risk due to high exposure to asbestos should stop smoking as it reduces the progression of any possible lung complications.
Finally, it is important to note that there are two ways in which one can be exposed to asbestos. The first is primary exposure whereby one is directly exposed to the asbestos in their occupation. The most uncommon way is known as secondary exposure. A good example is a wife who always comes into contact with the clothes of her husband who works in an occupation where they are exposed. Therefore, it important to protect yourself even if you are not directly at risk but a close family member is.