Asbestos is an integral mineral that is commonly used by the industrial sector. There are many reasons why asbestos was popular among industrialists. Some of these factors include heat resistance, electrical resistivity, and durability. However, while it was helpful as a building material, the microscopic fibers are lethal to humans. When these fibers get scrapped from surfaces, they become airborne, which may cause illnesses like asbestosis, mesothelioma, and lung cancer.
But it would help if you learned how this fiber can impact you and what causes diseases to erupt. As of now, asbestos usage is banned from most states in the US, except for a few where it is heavily regulated. This is why you need to know about this mineral in case you get exposed. Here’s an in-depth exploration of how asbestos can harm your health:
What Are The Risks of Asbestos Exposure?
Asbestos takes time to build up in your system. So, if you’re exposed to minute quantities, you may be safe. But if you risk prolonged exposure, the fibers can accumulate in your body. Asbestos fibers are small enough to become airborne, which makes them easy to inhale and settle in your lungs. In addition, if you eat your food in an asbestos-ridden environment, you may also ingest these fibers, which may cause them to interact with your stomach lining.
Generally, most cases of asbestos impact those sixty or older and result from when asbestos was heavily used in the US. So if you belong to the same category, you might be at risk of health problems. However, these are also cases of employee negligence. If you contract a disease because of your workplace, you can contact an asbestos law firm to settle your case and get compensated for the damages you suffered.
What Increases The Risk Of Asbestos-Related Disease?
Asbestos in small quantities is not harmful. If you inhale a few thousand strands, your body will eventually eliminate them. But if you have continuous and undisturbed exposure to these fibers, your body will react negatively to these strands. However, if you are worried that you may have an asbestos-related disease, check these factors:
- Duration. You need to figure out how long you were exposed to asbestos and when. If you have paperwork that determines how long you worked in a construction firm, stayed in a home built in the early eighties, or when served in the army, consider them.
- The Intensity of Exposure. Learn how much asbestos you got exposed to.
- Type of Industry. Numerous industries used asbestos products. For example, if you worked in construction, narrow down where you worked, such as handling building material, drilling bits, and sawing. These are high-exposure areas, and if you stay in this environment long, you may have an asbestos-related disease. But, if you only got exposed to asbestos bonded in tiles and the walls, these are low-exposure products and may not cause an asbestos-related illness.
- Genetic Mutations. In rare cases, if you have a genetic mutation in your DNA, you may develop an asbestos-related illness.
Now with that out of the way, here are some ways asbestos can harm our health and the diseases it can cause.
- Malignant Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is cancer that develops in the mesothelium layer of your organs. It is a layer of cells that lines your organs, and once it comes into contact with asbestos, these cells may clump together like a tumor. About 3,000 people get diagnosed with mesothelioma annually. Since most mesothelioma patients are pretty old, it drastically lowers their life expectancy to 12 to 21 months. Mesothelioma primarily impacts the lungs, but cases are reported in the testicles, heart, and abdomen.
In the case of the lungs, you may feel a deep pain in your chest, followed by intense coughing and blood in your sputum. You may find it hard to breathe and, in some cases, need oxygen support. Like any cancer, if you present these symptoms to your doctor, they will administer numerous tests like blood scans, biopsies, and X-rays to pinpoint the tumor’s location. In addition, you may need chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery, depending on your case progress. In some instances, you may get subjected to clinical trials like immunotherapy.
Asbestosis is not cancer but another chronic lung disease that will progressively get worse with time. This disease is also caused by frequent exposure to asbestos. The symptoms of asbestosis take at least five to twenty years to develop. Asbestos also involves scarring of the lungs, causing the muscles to deteriorate under stress. Under an X-ray, the doctor may see a thickening of the tissue fibers, giving it an almost honeycomb appearance. Scar tissue is complex and challenging.
Over time, it hardens and becomes inflexible. As a result, if you try to breathe, your lungs may have difficulty expanding, causing them ultimately to stop working and requiring immediate hospitalization. In addition, asbestos causes persistent coughing, tightness in your chest, and a light bluish hue on your cheeks from the lack of oxygen.
- Pleural Disorders
Pleura refers to the tissue lining the chest cavity and the surface of your lungs. Asbestos fibers can impact these tissues, causing them to get scarred and thickened. It leads to plaque deposits around your lung that can harden with time. It disrupts your lungs’ functions and leads to pleural effusion or fluid building up in your chest cavity.
You will exhibit similar symptoms to other asbestos-related diseases, including breathlessness, intense coughing, and, finally, leading up to your lungs collapsing. Therefore, it is highly advisable that the minute you feel a deep ache in your lungs, you check in with a doctor immediately. Early diagnosis can prevent scarring and make it easier for the doctor to prescribe medication that can slow down your symptoms.
Asbestos is a microscopic fiber heavily favored by the industrial sector. However, once these fibers become airborne, there is a high chance you may inhale them and make yourself sick. Asbestos can lead to many ailments; these are painful and aggressive to deal with and can cause intense tissue scarring.
If you are wondering how much you are at risk for contracting asbestosis, figure out how long you were exposed, where, and how much. Then, add up your research by finding out if you have a genetic mutation that makes you susceptible to these illnesses.