For those working on buildings built or refurbished before the year 2000, coming into contact with asbestos is an ever-present risk. If you disturb or damage this material, there is a chance that harmful fibres will be released into the air and subsequently inhaled, which can lead to serious health problems.
However, these symptoms might not become apparent straight away, as most illnesses and diseases are diagnosed several years or even decades after the initial exposure. By that time, it is often too late to do anything.
So, what are the main health concerns of asbestos and what should you do in the event of exposure? Here to explain is professional removal and disposal firm Sperion.
Health concerns of asbestos
This is a type of cancer that starts to grow in the pleural membrane of the lungs. However, it can also damage a similar lining around the abdomen or heart too.
Although mesothelioma usually affects only one side of the chest, cancer cells will inevitably grow and multiply, forming tumours and causing the pleural membrane to become thicker. Even low levels of exposure can cause mesothelioma if repeated over a prolonged period of time. Currently, mesothelioma is incurable.
The thing about this disease which really sets it apart from all the rest is the length of time that it takes to manifest itself. In some cases it can take decades to make itself apparent. This will likely be long after the Mesothelioma sufferer has left the job that resulted in the initial and ultimately poisonous exposure to asbestos to occur. Large claims for personal injury will often result from these types of unfortunate health situations, which were caused by the past employment of the sufferer!
Asbestos-related lung cancer
While lung cancer is a common disease among long-term cigarette smokers, it can also affect those with previous exposure to asbestos.
Cancerous cells will develop in the tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs. However, further growth can occur within the lung and also spread through the rest of your body. Treatment can take the form of surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, targeted therapy, and palliative care.
Much like cigarette smoke, asbestos fibres can also cause scarring in the parenchymal tissue of the lungs. This is known as asbestosis, a chronic and fibrotic medical condition.
Sufferers of this condition can be affected by severe shortness of breath but are also at risk of developing more complicated diseases, such as lung cancer.
Typically associated with heavy asbestos exposure, pleural thickening is a scaring of the lining of the lung, which usually covers a large area.
As a result of scarring, the lining thickens and swells. So, when the lung is squeezed it causes breathlessness and discomfort. This is not very pleasant at all for the sufferer.
This refers to areas of scar tissue forming up on the lining of the lungs. Although this is yet another condition that affects the pleura, there often-times tend to be no obvious symptoms.
Consequently, pleural plaques do not cause any long-term health problems and may go undiagnosed without serious repercussions.
In the event of exposure
If you think you may have been exposed to asbestos in the past, you should seek medical advice from your GP. Symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath, and chest pain could all point to an asbestos-related condition.
When you meet with your doctor or another medical professional, be sure to mention any past or present jobs involving asbestos exposure. You should also disclose whether you live with someone who has previously come into contact with asbestos, your symptoms, any testing you might need, and future treatment if it’s available.
Sperion have vast experience of safely dealing with and removing asbestos so get in touch for friendly help and no-obligation advice if you are in any doubt as to what to do with the material.