It is now a well-known fact that asbestos in all forms is a proven human carcinogen. Asbestos is a toxic product that causes cancer with exposure. The greater the exposure, and the longer the time spent being exposed to asbestos, the greater the risk of an asbestos-related disease developing.
Although there are
low risks associated with a one-time, low-level exposure, there is no ‘safe’ amount of exposure to asbestos or asbestos-related products. It’s incredibly important for people to be educated and be aware of the risks associated with coming into contact with asbestos fibres.
Asbestos-containing materials are not entirely dangerous if they are undisturbed and sturdy, it’s really only a potential health risk when asbestos fibres are friable – they are able to be crushed, powdered, broken by little force – and become airborne.
When asbestos-containing products become airborne, humans are at risk of inhaling the asbestos toxins. Inhaling and ingesting significant quantities of airborne asbestos fibres can cause:
• Mesothelioma – malignant tumours, cancer cells developing around the lungs or intestines
• Asbestosis – scarring of the lung tissues
• Lung cancer
• Larynx cancer
• Ovary cancer
• Pleural plaques – when the membranes around the lungs become thickened
The main link between these illnesses and asbestos exposure. The main way people are exposed to asbestos toxins is by breathing in the air that contains asbestos fibres. Symptoms of asbestos-related diseases and illnesses linked to asbestos exposure include breathing difficulties and scarring of the lungs, which can be shown through an X-ray scan.
Asbestos removal company GBAR Group Australia does not recommend anyone without the specific certifications trying to manage and dispose of asbestos-containing materials. If contaminated materials are not managed properly, there is an even greater risk of the asbestos becoming friable and being inhaled by anyone in the immediate vicinity.
Ingestion of asbestos-related products hasn’t been clearly documented. It’s been shown that few fibres aren’t able to penetrate the gastrointestinal tract. From this evidence, it’s said that the harmful effects when orally ingesting asbestos products are not as likely as inhaling asbestos fibres. There isn’t any consistent evidence pointing to asbestos ingestion being hazardous to health. However, it is not recommended that humans ingest a product that can be so damaging when inhaled.
Tiny levels of asbestos occur naturally in the air when the air contains asbestos fibres. This is the most typical way of humans being exposed to airborne asbestos fibres. This will usually occur as a result of weathering of asbestos-containing materials, deterioration or damage to the product.
These tiny asbestos fibres can get stuck in the lungs and irritate the lung tissues, causing both non-cancerous and cancerous asbestos-related diseases.
With every exposure to asbestos, more asbestos accumulates in the body. There is no way to reverse the cellular damage these asbestos fibres cause on the body.
The vast-majority of patients with asbestos-related diseases are people in their late 60s or older as these diseases have a very long latency period and take decades to develop. Older people have generally had a higher exposure as asbestos is mostly traces back to occupation exposure in the workplace in the 1970s to the 1990s.
That being said, many people being exposed to old asbestos-containing materials today are at risk of developing asbestos-related diseases in the future. Prevention for these diseases comes down to living and working in a safe environment and when faced with asbestos products, having them managed properly.