ASBESTOS AT A GLANCE

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Asbestos currently become huge issue as may caused in several health problems. All types of asbestos fibers are known to cause serious health hazards in humans.While it is agreed that amosite and crocidolite are the most hazardous asbestos fiber types, chrysotile asbestos has produced tumors in animals and is a recognized cause of asbestosis and malignant mesothelioma in humans.

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is group of naturally-occurring minerals that can potentially cause various types of lung damage, including cancer, if inhaled. Low levels of asbestos are present in the air, water and soil.  Asbestos has been mined and used in many everyday products in the past. Since the health hazards have been recognized, there are usually guidelines and controls in place for the handling and use of asbestos.

What are the potential health effects?

Some people will develop health problems following exposure, while others do not. If damage occurs, symptoms may not develop until many years (10 to 40)after exposure. Asbestos can cause several different types of lung damage:

Asbestosis usually takes many years to develop. The lung becomes permanently scarred and thickened, causing cough and breathing difficulties. This condition is slowly progressive and mostly seen in people who mined or manufactured asbestos or worked in industries which used asbestos (such as for insulation or roof sheeting).

Pleural disease occurs when the lining on the outside of the lungs and inside the chest wall (‘pleura’) become inflamed and scarred. Fluid can collect in the chest cavity. These changes may be progressive and may cause difficulty breathing. Some small pleural plaques from asbestos exposure may only be picked up on chest radiography and may cause no symptoms.

Cancer – two types of cancers are associated with asbestos exposure.

•                     Lung cancer: the risk is increased in smokers

•                     Mesothelioma: a rare cancer of the pleura or inner lining of the abdomen. Mesothelioma is the most common cancer associated with exposure to asbestos, although it occurs in only a small percentage of people who are exposed. It mayoccur many years after even a very small exposure. It is an aggressive cancer, which generally grows and spreads rapidly. Although treatment is sometimes possible, people with mesothelioma usually only survive 6 to 18 months after diagnosis.

Who is at risk?

People who are exposed on a regular basis and those working directly with the material are mostly likely to suffer from symptoms.

In general, the heavier and the longer the exposure, the greater the risk of developing an asbestos-related disease. However some individuals can develop illness, including cancer, after even a small exposure.

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