Asbestos is categorized as a cancer producing mineral. Its exposure is harmful to human health and mostly happens in the workplace. Fatal diseases associated with asbestos exposure are;
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring toxic mineral that have the ability to resist heat and electricity. Exposure to asbestos is linked with deadly diseases like mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis.
Asbestos fibres are very tiny, extremely tough, chemical corrosion and resistance to heat. These properties made it good fire proofing material and was widely used in commercial and domestic buildings. Asbestos exposure can happen anywhere at home, school, old buildings, government offices and while working on the job. Occupational exposure is the main cause of asbestos exposure.
When these asbestos containing microscopic fibres are inhaled, they get trapped deep in the lungs. The development of filaments stays in your lung tissue for quite a while and may cause scarring and irritation. This can prompt deadly diseases.
Toxic exposures occur in various ways. Building renovation and remodelling can be very harmful because these buildings contain asbestos. When asbestos containing materials are cut or disturbed, the fibres are released in the air.
Types of Asbestos Related Diseases
Over the time, these microscopic fibres cause inflammation and other health issues. Unfortunately, the risks of asbestos do not vanish once the exposure stops. They develop over the time. Due to the long latency time period, the symptoms such as pain, fever, cough and shortness of breath may not develop till 10 to 50 years even after the first exposure. Asbestos related diseases are hard to detect and often the illness is at a last stage of development. The three main disease are:
An aggressive, rare and incurable form of cancer which develops in the lining of the lungs, chest, heart, abdomen and lungs. There are four types of mesothelioma and each type is associated with different symptoms.
Lung cancer is also caused due to asbestos exposure. The leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. is asbestos exposure and accounts for more than 200,000 cases each year.
This chronic disease is caused by the inflammation of the lung tissues, preventing them from expanding and contracting. This causes breathing problems and the asbestosis victims die of respiratory failure.
By the year 2030, it is estimated that the total number of deaths associated with asbestos in the U.S. exceed by 200,000.
Occupations who were at the risk of asbestos exposure
The risk of asbestos exposure is high in occupations where asbestos was used in thousands of products and the workers working in these industries are potentially at the danger of toxic exposure. There were industries where asbestos was widely used such as:
Manufacturing & Power Plants
Schools, Buildings & Hospitals
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Lot of products containing asbestos fibers were manufactured and sold by companies. Products like floor tiles, ceiling, insulation, cement, paint and many more contains asbestos. These products are commonly used in old public buildings, homes, hospitals and were most at risk.
Asbestos Exposure in these Occupations
Electricians, fire-fighters, plumbers, mechanics and more other occupations are always at risk. Workers were most likely to get exposed on their job sites. But now the asbestos regulations are strict and allow all employers to safeguard their workers from asbestos and other work related health hazards.
Asbestos Exposure in the Environment
Asbestos fibers are released into the air through natural deposits of asbestos, natural calamities and mining. Though, a recent study shows that occupational asbestos exposure has been reduced but still in some specific regions there has been a rise in environmental exposure. The percentage of women patients with asbestos related diseases has been increasing. The naturally occurring deposits of asbestos are highest in the northern California.
Second Hand Asbestos Exposure
Second hand exposure or indirect exposure can be as dangerous as first hand exposure. This exposure happens when any family member brings asbestos fiber containing work clothes to home, making other family members at significant risk of exposure.
Women and children in the homes are more prone to secondary exposure. Men were directly exposed to asbestos in their job sites and the women who laundered their husband’s asbestos containing clothes were at the danger of second hand asbestos exposure.
Measures to be taken while working on the Job site
• Use protective equipment and follow all safety processes.
• Wear proper respirators while working around asbestos containing products.
• Don’t bring work clothes and shoes at home, just keep them at the workplace.
• Take showers before coming to home in order to avoid exposing family members.