What is asbestos?

Asbestos fibres are forms of silicates which belong to the serpentine and amphibole groups of minerals. They became increasingly popular among manufacturers and builders in the late 19th century, because of their sound absorption, tensile strength, resistance to fire, heat, electrical and chemical damage and affordability.

It is used in the manufacture of a vast array of materials used in the construction industry and a wide range of products such as heat resistant textiles, textured coatings, asbestos cement products (cladding and pipework), thermal insulation, brake and clutch linings, gaskets, floor tiles and packing materials

Everything you need to know about asbestos...

Asbestos is made up of microscopic fibres, often referred to as asbestos dust which can become airborne when asbestos containing products are disturbed, damaged or broken down. Asbestos dust particles are so small, you cannot seem them and when asbestos dust mixes with the air, it can be easily inhaled into the lungs or swallowed into the digestive system. This can lead to the occurrence of significant health problems.

Inhalation of Asbestos dust can cause the following diseases:

1. Pleural Plaque

This refers to any scarring that may occur in the pleura (lining of the lungs). Pleural Plaque is generally considered to be an early sign of asbestosis. The lung walls become thickened while the body attempts to remove the asbestos. Pleural plaques place people at risk for a more serious lung related disease.

2. Asbestosis

This is a chronic, inflammatory medical condition affecting the lungs. It is referred to as occupational lung disease and is caused by over exposure to high concentrations of asbestos dust. Its occurrence is long after the first exposure to asbestos dust and people who have been diagnosed with asbestosis experience shortness of breath. They also have a higher risk of developing lung cancer which in severe cases can lead to respiratory failure.

3. Lung Cancer Asbestosis

Can lead to lung cancer caused by asbestos dust exposure or inhalation of asbestos dust. The safe removal and disposal of asbestos

4. Mesothelioma

This is a rare and incurable form of cancer. Cancer cells in mesothelioma are found in the sac lining of the chest or abdomen. This type of cancer usually develops 20-40 years after initial exposure to airborne asbestos dust or the first inhalation of asbestos dust. It can be contracted within as little as one or two months of asbestos dust exposure. Early symptoms include: shortness of breath, chest pain, anaemia, hoarseness, coughing or wheezing, coughing up blood and presence of fluid in the surface of the lungs.

Currently, it’s not known how much exposure to asbestos dust in needed for a person to develop an asbestos-related disease, but one thing’s sure, the more asbestos dust you breathe in, the higher the risk.

To make sure you’re not at risk speak to one of our experts.

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