Asbestos refers to six naturally occurring fibrous minerals that have six primary sub-classifications:
Asbestos fibres are microscopic, but they are resistant to fire and most chemical reactions and breakdowns. This is why it was used for years for things like roofing shingles, floor and ceiling materials, cement compounds and even automotive parts. But these days, as it is directly linked to lots of lung and respiratory problems, so is no longer used.
Why is asbestos dangerous?
Asbestos is so hazardous because its fibres are so small. They are .02 the diameter of a human hair, which means that they are easily inhaled. The fibres cling to the lining of the lungs and inner cavity tissue, and become lodged in the soft tissue. They’re not easily broken down by the body which causes problems. Asbestos is now a known carcinogen to humans.
Who is at risk of health problems due to asbestos?
Hundreds of thousands of people were exposed to asbestos because it was so widely used in domestic, commercial and industrial products. People that worked with it are the most at risk because it is when the fibres are released into the air that they become dangerous. Processes such as grinding, chipping or demolishing could all cause the fibres to be released into the air. Most of the time, when it is present in intact cement or tiles, there is no immediate harm to those around them.
Health problems associated with asbestos
- Lung cancer – Lung cancer is often linked with smoking, but the risk is also known to be increased by exposure to asbestos. The symptoms are having a cough for a long time, chest pain and difficulty breathing.
- Mesothelioma – This is a rare and aggressive cancer of the lung and cavity lining, called the mesothelium. As well as the lungs, it can more rarely form in the lining of the abdominal cavity and the heart.
- Asbestosis – Asbestosis is a progressive non-cancerous long-term condition where scar tissue forms on the lungs. It can be a sign of the onset of mesothelioma.
If you think there is asbestos in your home or workplace, it’s best that you call a professional to get it removed. Use our service to get up to four quotes from reliable contractors.
To find out more about asbestos, visit the British Lung Foundation’s website.