Feb 3, 2016
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What Is Asbestos and Why Is It Harmful?

Asbestos is a group of minerals made up of thin microscopic fibers, resistant to fire, heat and chemicals and a nonconductor of electricity. These characteristics have made it an ideal product for widespread use in the construction, automotive and other industries. If products containing asbestos are disturbed the tiny fibers are released into the air and when breathed in they become trapped in the lungs and remain there. Over time these fibers can accumulate and cause serious health problems if you don’t have an asbestos removal company come in.

What Is Asbestos and Why Is It Harmful?

Symptoms of Asbestos Exposure

The respiratory tract is the most common site of asbestos exposure because of the tiny fibers being inhaled into the lungs. The main symptom is shortness of breath, others include the following.

  • A persistent cough that produces mucous chest tightness
  • Chest pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • A dry crackling sound in the lungs while inhaling

Health Problems Caused by Asbestos Exposure

  • Asbestosis an inflammatory condition of the lungs that causes shortness of breath, coughing and eventually scarring of the lungs making it hard to breath
  • Mesothelioma, a rare cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, chest cavity and abdomen
  • Lung cancer
  • Other lung problems, including pleural plaques (change in the membranes surrounding the lungs) thickening of the membrane that surrounds the lungs and pleural effusions (abnormal collection of fluid between the lung and the inside wall of the chest)

Studies have also suggested an association between asbestos exposure and other cancers, including cancers of the gastrointestinal tract, throat, kidney, brain, voice box, gall bladder and others. However the evidence is inconclusive.

Diagnosing Asbestos Related Health Problems

A diagnosis of health issues related to Asbestos exposure can take time to go through the diagnostic process. Your physician will begin by taking a complete medical history and performing a physical exam. They will ask about any other health problems and if they have a reason to suspect it will ask about any history of Asbestos exposure. Depending on the findings of your exam and history your Doctor may order tests, including the following, x rays of the chest and abdomen, lung function test, CT scans and or an MRI.

Who’s at Risk

While Asbestos miners are the most at risk of exposure some family members can be heavily exposed and face an increased risk of Mesothelioma. The possibility exists that they were unknowingly breathing in the fibers brought into the home on clothing, hair and skin. Another group at risk is those close to the attacks on the September 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center in New York City. Asbestos was used in the construction of the North Tower and hundreds of tons of asbestos were released into the atmosphere in the attacks. Widely used since the 1800’s increased health concerns and stricter regulations have seen Asbestos used less than it was even a few Decades ago.

Contact Hazpro Environmental if you require asbestos removal.

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