Health Risks Associated with Asbestos Exposure/ Mesothelioma Asbestos

Health Risks Associated with Asbestos Exposure
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Some of the most common Health Risks related to Asbestos are following:

Health risks of Asbestos Exposure
AsbestosisLung CancerMesotheliomaPleural effusionsPleural plaques

Health risks associated with asbestos exposure are mostly unknown to all of us, until unfortunately someone near us suffers. Asbestos when damaged, its fibers release in the environment which can be inhaled by anyone exposed to it and this can cause severe health risks. The health risks associated with Asbestos can be of cancerous and non-cancerous types.

Let’s explain these health risks one by one to know about them in a better way;

Asbestosis: It is a chronic lung condition which is also commonly known as pulmonary fibrosis, this health risk from asbestos can develop in a person after several years since the exposure. The way Asbestosis develops is, the fibers of asbestos once inhaled gets stuck in the tissue of lungs and causes inflammation in the organ and scarring over the period of time. One thing that is to be noted here is the fact that Asbestosis in itself is not a type of cancer but any increase in the severity of the same can increase the chances of it becoming cancer like lung cancer or Mesothelioma.

Lung Cancer: This health risk associated with asbestos is commonly known to all, although asbestos being the reason for the reason of the same is vastly unknown to the people. In United States over 200,000 people are diagnosed with lung cancer every year of which 3 to 4 percent relate to Asbestos exposure and rest is from smoking. Unawareness about the harmful effects of exposure to asbestos is the most common reason of so many cases registered of lung cancer. Active precautions can definitely help in bringing down the patients count of the disease.

Mesothelioma: This is a form of cancer that is rare and aggressive, also the most important fact is that this happens only due to the exposure of asbestos. Mesothelioma cancer effects three important parts of the human body that are lungs, abdomen and heart. This cancer type is very hard to detect and is mostly diagnosed and confirmed at the later stages of occurrence a few symptoms of the same are chest pain, shortness of breath and fatigue. The person suffering from Mesothelioma cancer can have an average life expectancy of 12-21 months.

Pleural effusions: effusion in pleura or pericardium can occur in a person who gets exposed to asbestos. This health risk is associated with lungs and chest cavity. There are two types of effusions in pleural cavity, exudative or transudative. This difference between these two is detected based on the microscopic and chemical analysis of the fluid. In case of Exudative pleural effusion lung of the patient gets inflammation due to the tumour growth. On the other hand, in case of Transudative pleural effusions the fluid leaks into the pleural cavity of the patient.

Pleural plaques: the health risk of this type relates to benign thickening of lining of the lungs. This health risk has relatively lesser impact in comparison to the other health risks caused by asbestos. The life expectancy of this health risk is of many years, although there is still not a common concise on whether pleural plaques can develop into mesothelioma at some point or not.

How can asbestos exposure affect my health?

As discussed above, inhaling the asbestos fibers can cause many health issues, the risk of getting contracted by these risks increases with the number of fibers inhaled (Asbestos Exposure) by the person. If you smoke, the chances of health risk becoming cancer is higher if asbestos fibers are inhaled. The severity of health risk from asbestos exposure can be seen from the fact that the symptoms of the diseases do not appear until many years from the day of exposure.

Types of Cancers caused by asbestos exposure:

Types of Cancers caused by asbestos exposure:
MesotheliomaLung CancerOvarian CancerLaryngeal Cancer

Mesothelioma: A rare form of cancer that develops in the lining of organs such as lungs, heart or abdomen.
Lung Cancer: A form of cancer that effects heart constituting of 4% of all lung cancer cases.
Ovarian Cancer: A form of cancer effecting females, International Agency for Research on Cancer confirmed that asbestos causes ovarian cancer in 2012.
Laryngeal Cancer: A form of cancer that effects the larynx containing the vocal cords.

Types of Noncancerous conditions caused by asbestos:

Types of Noncancerous conditions caused by asbestos
AsbestosisPleural plaquesPleural EffusionDiffuse Pleural ThickeningPleurisyAtelectasis

So, when does asbestos presents a risk to health?

Asbestos can cause health risks to anyone who is exposed to it, the only way it can effect is when the fibers are airborne and inhaled by the person in large quantities. Although everyone at all places are exposed to the airborne asbestos fibers, as they are present in smaller quantities everywhere, there are less chances that these small quantities can cause health risks.

If my home or office is made using asbestos material does that mean I am at health risk?

If your home or office building has used asbestos material in construction, they will surely not cause any health risks to you or your family. Asbestos can be a cause of health risk only when it is disturbed or broken and its fibers spread into the environment.
The people that mostly get effected by asbestos exposure are related to or work in asbestos mining or milling industries, military and making or installation of asbestos products. The families of the people working in these industries are also prone to the health risks of asbestos and so they must take preventive steps to remain safe from the same.

How to get safe from Asbestos / Asbestos removal

Removal of asbestos from any facility must be done/handled by a licensed person only. It is strongly suggested that this must not be done by yourself no matter how safe you think you can make it. You can search for local listings or call asbestos removal contractor’s association for helping in the same.

Precautions to get safe from Asbestos Exposure

Some precautions can be followed in the process of dealing with asbestos in the surroundings like:

  1. Prevent children’s access to the exposed location, also make sure the toys of children are covered and protected from the asbestos exposure.
  2. Do not vacuum cleaner or sweeping that can blow the fibers into air.
  3. Use wet methods like spraying water to prevent the fibers from getting airborne.
  4. If possible, cover the location to prevent exposure into the environment.
  5. If you are in a profession where you deal with asbestos, keep yourself clean at all times and make sure to go clean at home to prevent others from the health risks.

By – Karen – Health Blog Expert (Contributing Author)