Health Risks Associated with Asbestos are Asbestosis, Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma.
Asbestosis is a disease characterized by fibrotic scarring of the lungs. This is a restrictive disease, which reduces the overall volume of the lung. Asbestosis is prevalent among workers who have been exposed to large doses of asbestos fibers over an extended period of time. The risk of asbestosis is minimal for those who do not work with asbestos; the disease is rarely caused by neighborhood or family exposure. Even after exposure to asbestos has ceased, scar tissue will continue to form around existing scar tissue and fibers trapped in the lung. Like all diseases associated with asbestos exposure, it usually takes many years for the disease to develop, typically 10 to 20 years.
Lung cancer causes the greatest number of deaths related to asbestos exposure. The incidence of lung cancer in workers who are directly involved in the use of asbestos and its products is significantly higher than in the general population. As with asbestosis, there exists a long lag time between initial exposure and the development of lung cancer, typically 20 years.
The asbestos-associated disease of greatest concern is probably mesothelioma. Fortunately, it is also the most rare. Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that most often occurs in the thin membrane lining of the lungs, chest, abdomen, and sometimes the heart. Only about 3,000 cases are diagnosed in the United States each year. Virtually all cases of mesothelioma are linked with asbestos exposure. Similar to the other diseases of asbestos, mesothelioma has a long latency period that may not develop for 20 to 40 years after initial exposure.
Several factors can help to determine how asbestos exposure affects an individual, including:
How can one Identify Asbestos?
Determinations of Asbestos is only performed by instrumental analysis. However it is possible to suspect and make visual determination that a product or material contains asbestos, by knowing a few facts that we have discussed in our series. Thus do not enter asbestos exposure areas unless authorized, trained and equipped with proper respirator and other personal protection equipment.