What comes to mind when you hear the term “asbestos”? You may have heard about it on television or know someone exposed to asbestos who suffered or died from an asbestos-related disease.
No matter where you heard it from, one thing is for sure: Asbestos is dangerous. Long-term asbestos exposure may lead to severe health conditions like mesothelioma and asbestosis. In terms of facts, the workplace is always the leading cause of any asbestos-related disease. Even if you don’t work in an asbestos-riddled building, you could still have exposure to this substance. That usually happens when the fibers from an older site break loose and wreak unseen havoc in the air.
So if this kind of thing is so prevalent, what should an average Joe know to stay at bay? Here, we’ve enlisted a few important things regarding asbestos exposure that may help prevent asbestos-related diseases:
Asbestos – What is it?
Let’s kick this list off by addressing the elephant in the room: What exactly is asbestos?
Asbestos is a natural element that contains flexible fibers that are electric, heat, and corrosion-resistant. These features make the mineral useful. However, asbestos exposure is highly hazardous. If asbestos dust is consumed or inhaled, the fibers can become eternally wedged in the body. Furthermore, asbestos exposure can lead to cancer and other health problems. For example, mesothelioma is an aggressive and rare cancer almost entirely caused by asbestos exposure.
Side-bar: If, by coming in contact with an asbestos-containing product, you’ve become a victim of mesothelioma, please take solace in the fact that you can seek compensation. Many manufacturers and companies maintain asbestos trust funds for individuals who have been under the effect of this disease. However, remember that you can only seek this compensation if you file a lawsuit against the suspected party and hire a reasonable attorney.
It is incredibly harmful to our bodies.
Asbestos use rose globally in the 1920s. A few years after this boom, health issues emerged, and findings on its health risks were published. Although the first case of asbestos-related lung cancer was published in the British Medical Journal in 1924, British doctors were still reluctant to make a claim. Finally, after decades of studies, researchers were able to verify that asbestos, mainly its dust, is unsafe. It is hazardous when inhaled or ingested because the human anatomy cannot break it down, causing it to become stuck in the body.
It is hard to detect and prevent asbestos exposure because asbestos fibers are microscopic and cannot be seen, smelled, or tasted. Because asbestos is a carcinogen, the longer you are exposed to its fibers, the more likely you will develop an asbestos-related ailment. Medical researchers have stated that no precise number of asbestos exposure is safe. Asbestos exposure symptoms may not appear for up to 15 years, so an annual asbestos screening test is advised.
It has six different types.
Asbestos is classified into six types: amosite (brown asbestos), anthophyllite, crocidolite (blue asbestos), chrysotile (white asbestos), and rare actinolite and tremolite. Only amosite, crocidolite, and chrysotile are used commercially in many countries.
Because of its chemical and physical characteristics, chrysotile is the most prevalent type of asbestos. Chrysotile, a soft and curly fiber, is the most adaptable among the other classes and can withstand alkaline reactions and heat. It is commonly assorted with cement and used to construct residential and non-residential walls, floors, ceilings, and roofs.
Who is at risk of asbestos-related disease and exposure?
While state and federal regulations have established safety criteria for cutting down and using asbestos-related items, people are still exposed to asbestos. And thus, they are at risk of contracting asbestos-related diseases.
Workers involved in facility and building maintenance, removing insulation and other asbestos-containing products, and demolishing and renovating asbestos-containing frameworks are at a high risk of exposure.
The loved ones of these workers may also be at risk – which is called “take-home exposure.” When workers transport asbestos-containing clothing from the workplace to their home environment, other household members may be exposed to residual fibers left on the wearer’s clothes.
When in the workplace, here’s how asbestos should be handled:
Asbestos is ubiquitous (which is now a well-known fact). Therefore, it needs to be taken care of immediately with caution. A licensed contractor should inspect buildings suspected of containing asbestos. To reduce the risk of asbestos in the workplace, do the following:
- Put on protective equipment such as masks or respirators and disposable gloves.
- Use a sprayer to keep asbestos materials soft and prevent dust from spreading.
- Turn off the air conditioning.
- Clean up before leaving the workplace by disposing of waste properly
Furthermore, sweeping up asbestos fibers and dust is not recommended because it releases more particles. Moreover, no one should eat, smoke, or drink in the workplace.
Other countries continue to mine and export asbestos.
Despite its health risks, asbestos is a valuable commodity in Russia, China, India, Greece, Canada, and Italy. As a result, many of these countries continue to use and sell asbestos. In addition, due to its low cost, asbestos has become standard on construction sites in developing countries.
So these were a few essential pointers and things to keep in mind regarding asbestos exposure. With the information above, you can learn to protect yourself and your family. But, on the other hand, take action right away if you think you’ve been exposed to this horrible disease. Also, keep in mind that developing an asbestos-related illness is much more likely to happen if you dwell in many fibers over a prolonged time.