Asbestosis Causing Danger Zones at Home and at Work
Asbestosis, a severe lung disease, can lead to mesothelioma, a cancer. These diseases are caused by asbestos, a deadly substance that scars the lungs and forms tumors in the mesothelium tissue. Asbestos is on a global path to elimination, but until then, staying out of the danger zones will keep the asbestos danger away from you.
Asbestosis and mesothelioma are incurable diseases that occur due to asbestos exposure. Asbestos is deadly when it is air-borne. Microscopic slivered glass-like fibers become airborne, and when the asbestos fibers enter the lungs, they are permanent. The fibers accumulate with long term exposure to asbestos, and even a one-time heavy dose of asbestos leads to permanent lung damage. These fibers eventually cut into the lungs, and it isn’t until well-over ten years later that the symptoms of asbestos begin to erupt, and decades longer for mesothelioma.
Men are more likely to suffer from asbestosis and mesothelioma than women – likely due to the industrial nature of occupations in the past, which required daily heavy doses of asbestos long before effective regulations for working with asbestos were put into place. Individuals who have worked with asbestos and then were diagnosed with mesothelioma are typically over 50 years old, and often, diagnosis does not occur until many are in their 70’s.
Sadly, mesothelioma has even been detected in persons with a short history of asbestos exposure. The fine slivered hairs that are the trademark of asbestos are capable of scarring the lungs or chest of any man, woman or child who is exposed to airborne asbestos. Because of its clingy nature, asbestos was often brought into the home by asbestos industrial workers, and unsuspectedly worked its way into the lungs of family members. Housewives and homemakers were over 6% of the mesothelioma patients back in 1999 – indicating they were exposed to asbestos in the 1950’s, an era when there were more marriages and women were more likely to be doting on their husbands – including washing their asbestos-covered clothing.
Asbestos is used for walls and ceilings, sound-proofing, fire protection, insulation, vinyl floor tiles, and even insulation in common household appliances, such as toasters, irons, dishwashers, refrigerators and ovens. The homes and schools built prior to the 1970s were often filled with asbestos in the products that make up the walls, ceilings and insulation. Elementary school teachers were 2.4% of the cases in 1999, and managers, supervisors and administrators made up 10% of the cases.
The danger zones exist wherever asbestos is airborne. When asbestos-containing insulation around pipes becomes damaged, when walls are being removed for remodeling, or when an attic full of asbestos insulation is decaying, the entire building becomes a danger zone. Activating dry asbestos can be done merely by moving it or piercing it. Vacuuming asbestos severely multiplies its deadly affect. There are procedures referred to as “wet” handling of asbestos that lowers the risk of air-borne fibers. Trained asbestos handlers that are properly protected and experienced in asbestos removal and sealing should always be consulted. The risk of asbestos is neither visible nor immediate, but asbestosis and mesothelioma will likely be a part of your future if you have exposed yourself to a significant amount of the sharp flying fibers of asbestos.
Asbestosis and mesothelioma can clearly be avoided by not exposing yourself to airborne asbestos. Changing occupations or moving into a new house are not always viable options, however wearing proper protection and sealing any potential asbestos sources can keep you out of the danger zone. Read the materials listing on products you buy, and avoid buying from countries that ignore the risks of asbestos. Being aware of the dangers of asbestos and the potential of asbestosis and mesothelioma is the first step to prevention. Twenty years from now you’ll look back on today in good health, and not while suffering from the incurable diseases of asbestosis or mesothelioma.