At the very mention of asbestos presence in their home, most people will start panicking and searching for ways to get rid of it. This is a good thing, since being anywhere near asbestos can make it difficult to avoid all the harmful effects it can have on your health. The main problem lies in the airborne fibers, which are parts of asbestos crystals. Inhaling these fibers can lead to some very serious diseases. But, is asbestos dangerous in all its forms? And in which way? Take a look at the answers to these and similar questions, so that you can protect yourself and those around you from the harm asbestos can cause.
How does asbestos reach our system?
As mentioned above, asbestos crystals consist of fibers, which are often airborne and easily inhaled. Once these fibers enter your nose or throat, the mucous membranes inside them can do their job and trap them. When that happens, the fibers may be removed without any serious consequences. However, some of them may pass through your nose and throat and into your lungs or even digestive tract, in case you swallow it, and that’s how the health issues start. Asbestos fibers present the most danger when the asbestos is friable, which means that you can crumble it by hand without effort. While the sprayed-on version of asbestos is extremely friable, the one in the floor and ceiling tiles, fire doors and various shingles isn’t, unless it’s damaged or it has deteriorated. If it’s been affected by water, aging, frequent vibration or somebody’s caused physical damage to it by cutting, grinding, drilling it or anything alike, the asbestos material will be more likely to become friable and therefore a health hazard. Other than lung cancer, the most common diseases caused by asbestos exposure are mesothelioma and asbestosis.
What is mesothelioma?
This is a very rare form of cancer, but one which is almost exclusively linked to asbestos exposure. Generally, mesothelioma affects the thin membrane lining which covers your lungs, abdomen or chest. It occurs in people who have worked with asbestos, lived with somebody who has, or their home is near one of asbestos mines. If this is the case, and you notice that you have difficulty breathing, you’re coughing or are experiencing pain in the area of your rib cage, make sure you visit your doctor and do a chest X-ray, a CT scan or biopsy to determine if you suffer from mesothelioma. Some other symptoms include belly pain, constipation and fatigue. It can take up to 20 years for these symptoms to appear. In case you have this kind of cancer due to working with asbestos, you should find an experienced mesothelioma lawyer to file a claim on your behalf against the owner of the business or the place where you were exposed to the harmful substance. This is something you should do as soon as you find out about your disease, as you can only get the compensation for the damages if the claim gets filed during your lifetime.
What is asbestosis?
This is another condition caused by asbestos exposure and, like with mesothelioma, years can pass between you being exposed to asbestos and showing any symptoms of the disease. You might experience anything from cough and shortness of breath to chest pain, or you might even notice that your nails have assumed an unusually wide or round shape. Asbestosis causes damage to your lungs. More specific, it affects the alveoli, or the small sacs of the lungs. Once the damage has been done, it’s irreversible, but there are ways to deal with the symptoms, which is something your doctor can help you with, so that you feel more comfortable. Some people are prescribed oxygen to ease their breathing, while others, with more acute symptoms, can even get in line for a lung transplant. Those who suffer from asbestosis have a higher chance of getting lung cancer as well, which is why it’s essential to see your doctor the moment you start suspecting something is wrong.
It’s essential that you get as much information as possible about the things which can harm your health in any way, and this surely includes asbestos. In order to protect yourself and your loved ones, have your home inspected for asbestos and remove it immediately if you find it. Also, if you’ve been in touch with it at any point in your life, visit your doctor regularly and stay alert for any of the symptoms described in this article.