Health Risks Associated With Asbestos

Between the end of World War II and about 1990, many builders used asbestos when they constructed or renovated homes and commercial buildings. Asbestos consists of mineral fibres that are extremely resistant to damage from chemicals, fire and heat. These qualities made asbestos a seemingly ideal building material.

Eventually, manufacturers discovered that asbestos releases harmful fibres into the air when disturbed. Airborne asbestos is tied to a number of health problems because when people breathe in these fibres, they can cause lung damage. For this reason, it is now illegal to use asbestos as a building material anywhere in Australia.

However, because asbestos was such a common building material a few decades ago, many buildings still have asbestos in their structure today. Until the asbestos is disturbed, the minerals will lay dormant, but dormant asbestos is still dangerous – it could be disturbed at any time.

To prevent people in your home or business from being exposed to these dangerous fibres, you should educate yourself about this material and the health risks it poses, and consider asbestos removal in Melbourne.

What Are Health Risks Associated With Asbestos?

When people breathe in asbestos, the mineral fibres lodge in their lungs and remain there for years. Eventually, these fibres can cause various lung problems.

Some of the lung damages that asbestos exposure could cause includes the following:

  • Mesothelioma. This rare cancer affects the lungs, abdomen and chest cavity. This cancer develops along the lining of the lungs and is usually fatal. Most cases of mesothelioma cancer result from exposure to asbestos. The symptoms include shortness of breath, abdomen pain, blood clotting abnormalities and anaemia.
  • Asbestosis. This condition is an inflammation in the lungs. People who have this condition often exhibit symptoms like coughing, shortness of breath, loss of appetite and chest tightness. Over time, this disease will lead to lung scars that make breathing difficult. Asbestosis is a debilitating disease that greatly impacts a victim’s quality of life.
  • Benign pleural effusions: This illness occurs when fluid collects between the chest wall and the lungs. The collected fluid limits how far a person’s lungs can expand, resulting in breathlessness.
  • Lung cancer: Common symptoms of lung cancer include difficulty breathing, chest pains, coughing and anaemia. People who are exposed to both asbestos and cigarette smoke are at a greater risk of developing lung cancer.

Asbestos fibres come in many forms, and the different types may come with different health risk. For instance, some studies suggest long, durable amphibole asbestos fibres tend to cause mesothelioma because they remain in the lungs for years. Unfortunately, people rarely know for sure they have inhaled asbestos (or what type they inhaled) until a doctor diagnoses them with an illness.

Some studies also suggest asbestos is related to a number of other cancers, including kidney, voice box, throat and gallbladder cancers. Further research is needed to confirm asbestos causes these cancers.

Who Is At Risk For Asbestos-Related Illnesses?

Anyone who is exposed to asbestos in their home or work building could potentially experience asbestos-related health conditions. However, a person’s chances of developing an illness depend on several factors, including:

  • The length of time a person is exposed to asbestos
  • The amount of asbestos a person is exposed to
  • The form of asbestos a person is exposed to, including its chemical makeup and the size and shape of the fibres
  • The presence of additional lung diseases

Asbestos exposure can take between 15 to 60 years to cause harm. If you are exposed to asbestos, you may not know about the exposure for a long time. Visit a doctor if you experience lung problems, and let him or her know you may have been exposed to asbestos in the past.

Finally, if you suspect your commercial or residential building has asbestos, contact us for asbestos removal Melbourne.

Share on