Asbestos is a mineral composed of microscopic, malleable fibres. These fibres are heat, corrosion and electricity resistant. This resistance makes asbestos a good insulator and its fibrous structure means it can be used in building materials such as cement, roofing, or flooring.
However, this comes with risk. Every individual fibre of asbestos is composed of even smaller fibrils that can break off into the air when disturbed. Exposure to this toxic substance is highly dangerous, inhaled airborne fibres can be permanently trapped in lung tissue.
These fibres will cause you to develop serious diseases and cancers over a long period.
Because these afflictions progress over such a long period by the time they are diagnosed it is often too late to recover from. That is why it is important to know the dangers of asbestos exposure and how to keep yourself safe.
Mesothelioma will cause a malignant tumour to form in the lung lining after inhaling asbestos. This type of cancer can spread to the lining of the surrounding abdomen, heart, ovaries and testes.
The symptoms include the shortness of breath and pain when breathing, eating or coughing. Pressure on vital organs by the tumour and fluid build-up causes these symptoms.
After diagnosis, patients in England have a survival rate greater than 44.5% for the first twelve months. The survival rate at five years is around 6.5%. Treatment is through chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgical treatment or palliative care.
Asbestos Lung Cancer
Only a small percentage of lung cancer is exclusively caused by asbestos. However, exposure will increase the risk of developing lung cancer from other sources such as tobacco smoking.
Inhaled asbestos will be lodged into lung tissue where the fibres will cause genetic damage to the cells, turning them cancerous. Much like with Mesothelioma this will develop over a long time. Additionally after developing it takes only a period measured in months for it to spread around your body.
Unlike Mesothelioma the cancer is formed inside of the lungs rather than the lining.
Symptoms of asbestos lung cancer include a wheezing cough, coughing up blood and chronic respiratory infections.
Depending on the patient’s overall health and how far cancer has spread treatment could be: chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy or surgical removal.
However, the number of deaths from asbestos-related cancer is still high, being similar to the 2018 estimate of 2446 deaths by mesothelioma in the UK.
After exposure over the course of 20 to 30 years, excessive scar tissue will replace regular lung tissue.
This lung scarring causes symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath and extreme fatigue.
This is because so much damage has been inflicted to the lungs that it reduces the lungs capabilities. With scarred lungs, the exchange oxygen is made more difficult which leads to tiredness.
Additionally, asbestosis has the unfortunate effect of setting into motion other conditions. This complicates your situation further by making you more likely to suffer from the pleural disease, Mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung cancer.
There is no cure for this. It is not possible to reverse the damage suffered by your lungs. Treatment to relieve the symptoms includes oxygen therapy or pulmonary rehabilitation.
Pleura are the two-layered membrane lined sacs in the chest cavity between the lungs and the ribs. Inhaled asbestos fibres that find their way here will cause scarring, much like that found in asbestosis. This scarring will cause the thickening to be found in the pleura.
A thickened pleural will cause issues such as shortness of breath, discomfort within the chest. This is because the swelling will squeeze the lung itself as it covers a large area and restricts the expansion of the lungs.
Asbestos is so dangerous because it causes cancers and diseases that are not instantly apparent that are difficult if not impossible to deal with whilst posing a significant threat to your lifespan. Despite the asbestos ban, the substance can still be found in a lot of buildings as is a regular occupational hazard for those that regularly work with older buildings.
With how dangerous asbestos is to the health of those around it a preemptive stance is best taken to avoid exposure to the harmful substance in the first place. Contact asbestos removal experts for their services to protect yourself from the dangers of asbestos exposure.