What is Asbestos:
Asbestos is a set of naturally existing Silicate minerals which all have in common their Sharpe edged thin microscopic fibrous crystals . Asbestos is mining started about 4000 years ago but when the manufacturers and builders started the use of asbestos for it’s advantageous physical properties, in the end of 19th century its mining began in large scales.
Some of the desirable properties of asbestos are sound absorption, heat resistivity, average tensile strength, fire and electric resistivity and affordability. Due to these attractive properties, asbestos was heavily used till late 20th century.
Although the use of asbestos is strongly discouraged by developed countries but in developing countries it is still heavily used due to unawareness and its attractive properties.
Prolonged exposure to asbestos dust results in severe medical conditions such as Mesothelioma(Lung Cancer) and Asbestosis.
What is Asbestosis:
Long period of exposure to asbestos and asbestos dust results in the accumulation of asbestos fibers in the alveoli, which are the lung’s air sacs and is called asbestosis. Asbestos exposure can also damage pleura of the lungs which leads to diseases like mesothelioma and lung cancer.
Asbestosis is an incurable lung disease caused by asbestos exposure mainly due to inhalation of asbestos fibers.
The accumulation of asbestos fibers in the lungs cause scarring and stiffness of the lungs, which prevents the patient from taking full, deep breaths.
As an asbestos related disease it has similar symptoms to mesothelioma, but it is not a cancer and has more significant differences in terms of severity and treatment.
What is Mesothelioma:
Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer that develops on the protective lining around the lungs, abdomen, and heart. It is mainly caused by the prolonged exposure to asbestos and can take between 20 and 50 years to develop.
Products that may contain Asbestos:
In developed countries asbestos was heavily used in building industry insulation, roofing and fireproofing. For heat resistivity these fibers were mixed into cement or woven into fabrics and mats. These fibers are also used in ship piping and manufacturing of roof tiles.
Who are at Risk of Developing Asbestos related Disease?
Workers mining asbestos, people who are largely exposed to asbestos dust, people who work in ship wreckage, workers of any manufacturing industry which uses asbestos and workers who remove insulation around steam pipes in older building (in developed countries), those who install or remove asbestos products.
People who are not directly involved in asbestos industry might have been exposed to lower levels of asbestos throughout their lifespan.
For example we might have inhaled the asbestos contaminated air. Even a single exposure can lead to complex medical conditions but it is not guaranteed always, that you will suffer with any asbestos related disease, just like every smoker does not develop lung cancer.
You should note that the effect of long term asbestos exposure don’t show up for 10 to 40 years after first exposure.
- Shortness of breath
- A persistent, dry cough
- Loss of appetite with weight loss
- Fingertips and toes that appear wider and rounder than normal (clubbing)
- Chest tightness or pain
What Should You Do, If exposed to Asbestos:
After being exposed to asbestos if you starts to experience the above symptoms, it is advised to tell you doctor.
Asbestos Exposure increases the risks of developing asbestos related diseases, Although, any exposure to asbestos is considered potentially harmful and the cause of asbestos related illness, however it is not guaranteed that you will experience one.