Asbestos has long featured as an important construction material that is extensively used to construct houses, buildings, insulation pipes, wiring and more. A naturally occurring mineral, asbestos was considered to be atoxic unless studies confirmed that the seemingly harmless asbestos fibers that float in the air can cause irreparable damages to health, if exposed for a longer period. Researches have proved that prolonged exposure to asbestos fibers can put one at a life-risk. If asbestos fibers are inhaled for long, they can get lodged in the lungs and cause inflammation and scarring of lungs overtime. Inhaling longer, more durable asbestos fibers like tremolite and other amphiboles can add up to the severity of asbestos-related disorders. What’s worse, since these kind of disorders occur over a prolonged period, the symptoms may not be very easy to detect and may often go unheeded. Protracted exposure to asbestos can trigger complicated health hazards like lung cancer, mesothelioma and nonmalignant lung and pleural disorders, as well as asbestosis, pleural plaques, pleural thickening and pleural effusions. To know more on the health risks of asbestos, browse through the following lines.
Health Risks Of Asbestos
One of the many health hazards of asbestos is a chronic respiratory condition called asbestosis that is often caused due to prolonged exposure to asbestos. Labeled mainly as an occupational lung hazard, asbestosis affects the parenchymal tissue of the lungs and is triggered when asbestos fibers are inhaled and retained inside. Common symptoms of asbestosis include chest pain, coughing, finger deformity, exertion and shortness of breath. However, these symptoms may often take 20-30 years to reveal themselves and sometimes even more than that.
Prolonged exposure to asbestos heightens one’s risk of developing Mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that develops in the protective lining enveloping many internal organs of the body. This again is caused due to over exposure to asbestos fiber, over a period of time, thereby leading to cancer. Those suffering from Mesothelioma will exhibit the symptoms of painful breathing and coughing, chest pain, abnormal weight loss, dry cough, shortness of breath and formation of strange lump like tissue under the skin on the chest.
Asbestos Lung Cancer
Another grave condition that occurs due to overexposure of asbestos is lung cancer. This condition is more common among asbestos-exposed workers who smoke. This type of cancer usually hits the lining of the bronchi, the trachea, bronchioles or alveoli. Although lung cancer usually develops slowly, once it occurs, cancer cells can break away and spread to other parts of the body. The most common symptoms of asbestos lung cancer are chest pain, persistent cough, weight loss, loss of appetite, bloody or rust–colored septum, recurring infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia, fatigue, wheezing, prolonging chest, shoulder or back pain.
Diffuse Pleural Thickening
Pleural thickening can occur as a result of any inflammation in the lungs. When inhaled; asbestos fibers hit the pleura, causing scarring or fibrosis. While pleural thickening is relatively harmless in some cases, it is also common among workers who were exposed to and inhaled a significant amount of dangerous asbestos particles. The common symptoms range between chest pain, shortness of breath and decreased ability to exercise.