Asbestos has been labelled a hazardous material since the 1990s, and since the early 2000s has been banned throughout the construction industry and beyond. To understand this and the reasons why asbestos has been labelled as such a dangerous material, we have to look closely at the health risks associated with the substance and how it reacts with the body to cause debilitating and sometimes life-threatening conditions.
The reason why asbestos has become such a problematic and hazardous substance in the world of medicine and healthcare, is because when broken down, its particles are released into the air and then breathed in by occupants or users of the building where the material is present. These fibres and particles are sucked into the lungs where they become stuck and can start to irritate the lining of the lungs – leading to some nasty and debilitating conditions.
It is for this reason that asbestos surveys are now recommended for any property that was constructed before 2000 and are a requirement for those undergoing renovation or demolition work.
Some of the health risks that have been linked to asbestos exposure include:
- Asbestosis – named due to its direct link to asbestos exposure, this condition includes scarring of the lungs which makes it hard for oxygen and cardon dioxide to pass through the lungs and leaves the sufferer struggling to breathe normally.
- Pleural disease – a non-cancerous alteration of the membrane which surrounds the lungs and chest cavity. Resulting in a number of changes which can see the membrane grow thicker or allowing fluid to collect in the lungs, this long-term disease tends to reduce the efficiency of the lungs.
- Lung cancer – which grows until it eventually blocks the lung’s air passages altogether.
- Mesothelioma – a rare cancer which affects the membrane around the lung and chest cavity.
Asbestos exposure can also exacerbate or even cause other cancers throughout the body, including the larynx, ovaries, stomach among others.
Finally, it is crucial to note that once asbestos has entered the lungs it cannot be removed, only managed – and that anyone who has been exposed to asbestos in any format should be checked by a medical professional.
How does asbestos affect our health?
There are a number of factors at play in asbestos-related diseases and ailments, and it is of course important to recognise that not all who come into contact with asbestos contract these diseases or even suffer health problems of any kind.
Things which can affect your response to asbestos include:
- The length and frequency of exposure
- The amount of asbestos you have been exposed to
- Whether there are any underlying health conditions or lifestyle factors which could render your body’s response to asbestos to be increasingly negative
In addition, the stability and structure of the asbestos that an individual is exposed to plays a major part in whether they suffer from any short or long term health conditions. Our asbestos surveys are designed to identify and assess the presence of asbestos to see if it is at risk of breaking down, if it has already started to break down, or if it is still stable and therefore able to be managed rather than removed immediately.
To find out more and to book your asbestos survey, get in touch with our team today.