Many people have heard that asbestos is dangerous, and that it needs to be removed as soon as possible if it’s found in their home or workplace. However, most people don’t understand exactly what asbestos is or why it’s so dangerous. They may also not know exactly where in their homes they may find asbestos or when it should be considered dangerous. Here are some asbestos basics so that you will be prepared to deal with this substance and know when you need to call in the experts to remove it.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is actually the common term for six different types of minerals that occur naturally. These minerals are made out of very fine fibres that are incredibly durable. They resist fire and heat, plus there are a number of chemicals that cannot eat through asbestos. This makes these minerals very useful for many different things from building materials to protective gear. However, once the dangers of asbestos were discovered, its use in many of these implements has been discontinued.
Why is Asbestos Dangerous?
When asbestos is solid and not releasing any fibres or dust, it’s actually not dangerous at all. It’s only when asbestos dust is inhaled that it becomes potentially deadly. These fibres and dust can become trapped within the lungs or make their way into your digestive tract. There, they can cause a number of different illnesses, including cancer. Asbestos is at its most dangerous when it easily crumbles upon being touched.
In many cases, flooring, ceiling tiles, shingles, cabinet tops, and other items that contain asbestos will not be dangerous unless they have been damaged. Aging, water damage, vibrations, and any type of impact, however, can lead to the release of asbestos dust. When this occurs, you will need to contact a professional asbestos removal service.
Common Health Issues
If you have inhaled asbestos, you may be at risk for one of the three common types of diseases associated with the minerals. Being exposed to asbestos only once is usually no cause for alarm. In most cases, short-term exposure is harmless, but those who have been exposed to asbestos for years should take note of the signs of these three illnesses. Sometimes, symptoms do not develop until years after your initial exposure.
Lung cancer is the most common illness. If you have been inhaling asbestos for years and have noted a change in your breathing or have a persistent cough, you should see a doctor immediately. Those who work in the fields of manufacturing, mining, and milling may be at higher risk, as are those who smoke or are often around cigarette smoke.
Asbestosis is another disease that affects the respiratory system and is caused by inhaling asbestos. The inhaled fibres damage the tissue in the lungs, causing it to scar. This results in having difficulty breathing and can eventually lead to heart failure. Unfortunately, there is currently no treatment for this disease, but it is also fairly rare.
Mesothelioma is a type of lung cancer that affects the membranes that line the abdomen, lungs, chest, and heart. Mesothelioma is almost always caused exclusively by asbestos and most often affects those in manufacturing, textiles, and mining.