Asbestos is in the air!
Are you a construction worker or a miner who experiences coughing and wheezing frequently? Asbestos might be the cause of your constant chest pains and respiratory issues.
This commonly used construction material is notorious for its adverse health effects. Here’s all that you need to know about asbestos and its detrimental impact on human health.
What is Asbestos?
You might have heard about asbestos being used in construction and insulation industries, but what is it really?
Asbestos is a naturally found silicate mineral and consists of ‘fibre’ like crystals. These fibrous crystals are further made up of tiny, microscopic ‘fibrils.’ These minute fibrils come together to make up an immensely strong and flexible material, which is asbestos.
Uses of Asbestos
Due to its outstanding flexibility, robustness, and resistance to heat and certain chemicals, asbestos has found wide applications in the construction and insulation industries.
This silicate mineral can be found in:
- Thermal insulation
- Automotive clutches, brake pads, and linings
- Gaskets and packing materials
- Asbestos cement
- Roofing and flooring materials,
- And even paints and caulking products
Asbestosis isn’t a made-up term!
It’s a respiratory disease that causes inflammation of the lungs due to exposure to asbestos fibres. This condition manifests in the form of wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath.
There’s no treatment for asbestosis, and it can progress into a fatal condition.
Asbestos is a known carcinogen, and inhaling asbestos fibres can cause lung cancer. When asbestos-containing compounds are disturbed, they release asbestos fibres into the air. The fibres are inhaled and kill lung cells. The fibres don’t stop at killing the cell; they further release mutagens and tumour-inducing factors into the body, leading to lung cancer.
Asbestosis can progress into mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lungs, heart, and abdomen. This cancer is more common in people who’re exposed to asbestos fibres regularly and smoke as well.
The condition can present itself as breathing complications, dry coughing, night sweats, and fatigue. Mesothelioma patients usually have a very short life expectancy.
Pleural effusion is simply the accumulation of fluid between the layers of the lungs. Pleural effusion might manifest the same symptoms as a general cold or flu, but it’s much more detrimental to the health.
Practitioners can drain the excess fluid from the body, but it generally requires invasive procedures such as chest tubes.
Workers exposed to asbestos regularly should be made aware of its health effects and the proper precautionary measures that should be employed when dealing with asbestos. Employers can avail Metro Safety Training School’s services that provide Asbestos/Lead/Silica awareness program in BC, Canada.