Asbestosis - ARE YOU AT RISK?
Asbestos is a dangerous substance, for which there is no "safe" level of exposure in the work environment. Individuals who have had significant occupational exposure to asbestos are at risk of developing a variety of diseases caused by inhalation of asbestos fibers.
Asbestos was used in many types of materials, some of which are:
- Thermal Insulation (pipe, block & cement)
- Fireproofing Acoustical Texture Products
- Textile and Cloth Products (asbestos gloves, blankets, etc.)
- Spackling, Patching & Taping Compounds
- Gaskets and Packings
- Asbestos - Cement Pipe and Sheet Material
- Ceiling Tiles, Wallboard, Siding and Roofing
- Friction Materials (brakes & clutches)
- Asbestos become a health hazard only when these materials crumble, fall apart, damaged or ripped. When asbestos materials are damaged like this, fibers are released into the air, where they may stay suspended for a long time. Asbestos can then be inhaled and the fibers can lodge deeply in the lungs.
Common symptoms of asbestos exposure are shortness of breath, coughing, chest pain, crackling sound in the lungs and weight loss. Unfortunately, symptoms such as these appear as early as 15 years after exposure. The time between exposure and symptoms is often 20 to 30 years.
DISEASES ASSOCIATED WITH ASBESTOS
There are four specific diseases which are directly linked to the use of asbestos products:
- Mesothelioma- Which is a rare cancer of the thin membrane lining of the thoracic and abdominal cavities. Symptoms are: shortness of breath, pain in the lower back or side of the chest, coughing and weight loss.
- Lung Cancer- The most common type of cancer found in workers who have had exposure to asbestos products.
- Pleural Plaque/Thickening- Involves scarring of the lining of the lung. Plaque or thickening is not cancerous, but does impair the function of lung and restricts breathing capacity.
- Asbestosis- is chronic, non-cancerous fibrous hardening and scarring of the lungs. This scarring can cause lung impairment.
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