The qualities of asbestos, like fire and chemical resistance, make it a good material for manufacturing and building industries. While it has excellent characteristics, studies have linked its use to respiratory and other related diseases.
Many people who are repeatedly exposed for a long time develop asbestos-related diseases. These diseases cause serious health complications and sometimes death. According to NPR, there were 45,221 mesothelioma-related deaths in the U.S. between 1999 and 2015, most of which were women.
Dangers of Asbestos
Asbestosis is a chronic lung disease affecting lung tissues, leading to pulmonary fibrosis. It’s caused by inhaling asbestos fiber over an extended period.
The condition leads to decreased lung elasticity, causing difficulty in breathing, characterized by shortness of breath. Unfortunately, asbestos exposure may not result in asbestosis immediately, only to show up many years later, which can be as late as 40 years from the time of exposure.
The symptoms may include but are not limited to persistent dry cough, shortness of breath, dry and cracking sound from the lungs when you inhale, and rounded fingertips and toes that also appear wider. If you suspect to be suffering from asbestosis, you should visit a health facility for a diagnostic test that may include a chest X-ray and laboratory tests.
2. Mesothelioma and Lung Cancer
Mesothelioma is a form of cancer affecting the inner lining of organs, including the lungs, and is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma usually develops in the pleura tissues. These tissues are the linings of the lungs and chest cavity.
Also, it may affect the abdomen, heart, and testicles. Symptoms of Mesothelioma depend on the organs it affects. When it affects the lungs and the chest cavity, the symptoms can include chest pain, persistent cough, shortness of breath, clubbed fingertips, and fatigue, among others.
Asbestos exposure is also linked to increased risks of other types of cancers. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and lung cancer from exposure caused by another person’s negligence, you should consider pursuing damages with the help of a personal injury lawyer.
3. Pleura Disease
The pleura is the tissue that covers the outer walls of the lung and the chest cavity. The space between the two layers is the pleural space filled with enough fluids to lubricate the chest cavity for the up and down movements during breathing.
Extended inhalation of asbestos fiber has been seen to affect the pleura in several ways resulting in a condition called pleura disease. Pleura disease presents itself in several ways, with the most common way being an overproduction of the fluid between the layers, also known as pleural effusion.
The symptoms of this disease are mainly difficulty breathing, chest pains, and shortness of breath. If you suspect asbestos exposure, it’s best to go for a physical examination.
Keeping Your Home Safe.
The general use of asbestos products in the U.S has declined significantly in recent years due to government intervention and control. However, if you live in older houses, they may still have materials that contain asbestos.
Also, other products such as brake pads, gaskets, and friction materials may still contain asbestos which could be inhaled, but they are mostly labeled thus as caution.
The best way to deal with asbestos and reduce the chance of exposure is to leave asbestos-containing materials undisturbed. If the materials are not damaged, they remain non hazardous and will not release asbestos if left undisturbed.
Repairing broken or damaged asbestos materials will help seal the asbestos, binding the fibers and reducing their release in the environment. Exposed pipes may need protective coverings to wrap up the exposed part or areas. Any kind of repair, minor or significant, on asbestos-containing materials should be handled by a professional to avoid exposure.