- 25th December 2015
- Posted by: mds
- Category: Asbestos, Asbestos Consultancy, Asbestos Management, Asbestos Survey, Asbestos Training, Health and Safety
Although some bans and regulations have been put into place in America, asbestos is still widely used and imported, and continues to have a major impact on its citizens. Our blog this month features an article by Cara Tompot at the Mesothelioma Center based in America, with advice to American citizens.
Asbestos and Your Health
Did you know that asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral, is found in many old homes and public buildings?
Valued for its versatility, high heat resistance and insulating properties, manufacturers added the mineral to a variety of products, including attic insulation and floor tiles.
By the time the dangers of asbestos were widely known, millions of homes and public buildings contained the carcinogen due to a decades-long cover up by asbestos manufacturers and big name corporations.
Once the truth was out, it was too late for thousands of victims.
When asbestos remains undisturbed, it poses a low risk to someone’s health. The real danger comes when the substance is disturbed. This can happen naturally (erosion or a natural disaster) or during a renovation or DIY project.
Once the toxic substance is broken apart, millions of microscopic fibres become airborne. These fibres can be inhaled or ingested by unsuspecting humans or animals.
Over decades, the fibres can become lodged in the lining of someone’s lungs or abdomen, eventually leading to scarring, genetic changes and possibly cancer.
People with a history of asbestos exposure are at risk for mesothelioma, an incurable cancer, along with a variety of other asbestos-related conditions.
Asbestos-related diseases, especially mesothelioma, have an exceedingly long latency period. This means it may take 20 to 50 years for someone exposed to asbestos to finally see the signs and symptoms of mesothelioma. Even then, mesothelioma shares many symptoms with less serious diseases, so when it is finally diagnosed, it has already progressed to the later cancer stages.
What to Do if You Suspect Asbestos in Your Home or Workplace
No one wants to be exposed to asbestos. If you suspect the deadly substance exists in your home or workplace, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends you treat it as if it is asbestos.
Initial steps to take if you believe you were exposed to asbestos:
- Don’t panic. While there are real dangers to asbestos exposure, it’s important to remember not to panic. Mesothelioma is relatively rare. An estimated 3,000 Americans are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year.
- Call an asbestos abatement specialist. Even if you are not positive that asbestos is present, it is always better to be safe than sorry. Only a certified asbestos abatement specialist can safely remove the substance from your home or worksite.
- Tell your primary care physician. If you believe you were exposed to asbestos, be sure to alert your doctor or other specialists. It’s important to closely monitor your health for any changes that may be the result of your exposure. When it comes to asbestos-related diseases, early diagnosis can make a huge difference.