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These days, it seems it’s impossible to avoid getting sick from various harmful materials that surround us. Unfortunately, it’s quite common to find harmful materials in things we use daily or are surrounded by all the time; and one of these materials is asbestos. Asbestos has been widely used to make construction materials, automotive parts and various textiles, and this means it can be found in our homes as well as public buildings such as schools and hospitals. Exposure to asbestos can have serious health consequences such as asbestosis and cancer; so, it’s important to learn what asbestos is; how it affects our health; what the symptoms are and how to avoid getting sick.
What is asbestos and how is it used?
Asbestos is actually the name given to six minerals that occur in the environment in the form of fiber bundles. These fibers can be separated into thin durable threads and because they are resistant to heat, fire and chemicals, and they don’t conduct electricity, they’re used in different industries because they’re so practical. Due to its wide and practical use, asbestos is used all over the world, including Australia. It is most commonly used in the construction industry for strengthening cement and plastics so it can be found in insulation, roofing as well as for fireproofing and sound insulation. When it comes to buildings, it can also be found in tiles, paints, coatings as well as various adhesives and plastics. Asbestos is also used in the car industry for making brake shoes and clutch pads.
Long term effect of asbestos exposure can lead to serious health problems and even death. Seeing as asbestos fibers can be inhaled, the lungs are the most affected organ. Asbestos can cause asbestosis, a chronic lung disease, and even lung cancer. There are cases, quite rare though, where asbestos causes mesothelioma, which is a form of an aggressive and quite often fatal cancer. This disease usually only occurs among workers who are closely exposed to asbestos.
Symptoms of asbestos-related diseases.
Unfortunately, symptoms of asbestos-related diseases might not become apparent for a long time after the exposure, in fact, decades can pass before first symptoms occur. The symptoms that do develop after exposure include shortness of breath and hoarseness; persistent and increasing coughing; chest pain; difficulty swallowing; weight loss, loss of appetite, fatigue and anemia. What is important is to let your physician know that there was exposure to asbestos in order to get a lung x-ray in order to detect any asbestos-related diseases.
Who is affected?
The biggest problem with asbestos is the fact that everyone can be exposed. However, this doesn’t mean that a person can get sick just because their house is made of materials containing asbestos. Exposure to this harmful material occurs when products containing it are disturbed and then this leads to those tiny asbestos fibers being released into the air. Once a person breathes in these fibers, they can get trapped in the lungs and stay there for a long time and this leads to asbestos-related diseases. Most commonly, people who work with products containing this material are at greater risk from asbestos exposure. Thankfully, there are companies which deal with asbestos removal in Sydney so it’s possible to reduce the risk of exposure. It’s also good to know that there are state agencies which are responsible for health and safety; and they are the ones who regulate any issues that might occur.
What’s important to remember is that while there is asbestos all around us, it doesn’t mean everyone is exposed to it and will get sick. However, if there’s a possibility of exposure, it’s important to be aware of it and take the necessary steps to prevent any possible health complications.