Asbestos was a lethal killer
Those of whom are apart of the construction industry or those associated with housing development may have never heard of asbestos – especially if you’re a newbie. Asbestos is as deadly as it comes and can even end a live. It kind of resembles carbon monoxide in some sense however asbestos is visible once discovered. Today we look at the background of asbestos to why it was so dangerous, health issues linked to asbestos
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos was commonly found in many apartments with the most being seen in households. It was an occurring fibrous material that can be invisible and odourless to humans. There are six types of asbestos classified as: chrysotile, amosite, crocidolite, tremolite, anthophyllite, and actinolite. The biological reasoning to why Asbestos was so deadly is that when inhaled, the fibres are quickly attached to the organs and cavity involved in the respiratory system (how you breathe). Consequently, since it is a fibrous material, this means it has molecular components of a fibrous protein which are insoluble making it harder to break down once attached.
Asbestos was commonly used in households and buildings due to the strong resistance it had against fire and chemical breakdowns and reactions thus acting as a useful component and resistant when used in construction.
Now, Asbestos as a whole is banned from any sort of use which was implemented on the 24th November 1999 upon chrysotile (a type of asbestos). It is now mandatory for a risk assessment check of a property built before the ban in order to find any sort of trace of the fibrous material.
The Health Issues surrounding Asbestos
Lung associated illnesses are commonly derived from asbestos. One disease was named after the inhalation of the fibrous material called Asbestosis. Asbestosis is a terminal lung disease that relates to lung tissues being scarred thus creating difficulty to breathing for the long term. Symptoms of the disease can be constant coughing, difficulty of breathing, chest pains, appetite loss, weight loss etc. Sadly there is no permanent cure for this disease but thankfully the rates of obtaining this disease has decreased dramatically since the ban. However there are temporary treatment options such as oxygen therapy and respiratory physiotherapy.
Another major disease is lung cancer caused by inhalation again. Lung cancer has no permanent treatment obviously and the search for the cure for cancer continues as a whole. Physiotherapy is the only treatment available in its best attempt to prevent the cancer from spreading.
Mesothelioma is another type of cancer but is quite rare to inherit. This affects the cavity lining in the body and attacks a membrane called Mesothelium. Mesothelioma is regarded as the most severe problem out of the three mentioned as it can be an aggressive sort of cancer. Exposure to asbestos is the most common cause of mesothelioma and can take 60 years to develop. Statistics relating to the Census in 2011 gathered by Cancer Research showed that 2,570 people per 100,000 in the UK obtained the disease which is not as alarming as it could potentially be with the continuous population growth and higher life expectancy.
How to tackle Asbestos once found
Asbestos laying around can actually be harmless. Therefore, one of the safest precautions to take is to leave it alone and call a professional to remove the asbestos due to the fact that if the substance is disturbed it will release those nasty fibres discussed above. In fact, this is the best solution possible as if you decide to tackle it yourself, you may inadvertently inhale it.
Removing asbestos obviously requires a gas mask of some sort acting as protection from breathing in the hazardous air and substance. Appropriate clothing as well such as overhauls, lab coats or chemical tackling clothing are the best way of preventing yourself from breathing it in. These clothing should also be disposable as the asbestos may unintentionally go onto your clothing.
However, eliminating asbestos is a very dangerous procedure and should only be carried out by those with a license. The material used in the elimination process ironically involves the fibrous material itself which is known as ‘asbestos containing-materials (ACM)’. You can find more about the removal of asbestos here and here.
What to do if you are exposed to Asbestos
You should immediately get yourself checked out no matter the circumstances. This is your best chance to prevent any sort of diseases in the future as the symptoms of the health issues do not immediately appear. Even if you are skeptical to whether you were exposed or not, you should still get yourself to a doctor. It is best to be safe than sorry.
Thankfully the strict safety procedures and the ban of asbestos has saved many lives
Asbestos may still be lying around but due to the important safety checks that are carried out, many lives are being saved. No new buildings are obviously being built using asbestos but if you are living in a house built before 2000 and not had a safety check, it is better to get one ASAP.
Schools is becoming a concern in containing traces of asbestos and many have argued that there should be safety checks of high importance to be carried out and rightly so.
So there you have it, a brief background check on the history and effects of asbestos. Just remember your health is more important than the paycheque you receive from the end of the construction project.
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