- Most people do not show symptoms of Asbestosis for years.
- Pleural diffuse thickening occurs when asbestos damages the pleura causing it to thicken.
- Smokers are at the highest risk of developing asbestos-related diseases due to weaker lungs.
You might have come across the term during industrial asbestos removal (in Colorado Springs for instance) before demolition, but may not know what it is and why should it be removed. Asbestos is a naturally occurring silicone-based fiber used in construction for insulating buildings, car brakes, insulating hot water pipes, coating for paint and tiles, mixed in adhesives, cement, etc. This mineral easily breaks down into thin invisible particles which when inhaled can negatively impact the lungs. It can also be swallowed through food and water contaminated by the material. In most cases, it takes a period of several years of exposure but in the case of smokers, the effects can be felt after a few months. Here are some harmful effects of asbestos:
It is the scarring of the lungs caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibers over a period of time. It is a type of pulmonary fibrosis. These scars tighten the lungs which make it difficult to breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon-di-oxide. It is a chronic illness and can even be fatal. Symptoms include shortness of breath, cough, blue skin, clubbing of fingers and chest pains. It can also be detected with a scan. Most people do not show symptoms for years.
These are the conditions in which the membrane around the chest cavity (pleura) and the lungs are affected. There are four types of pleural diseases: pleural plaques, pleural effusion, rounded atelectasis, and pleural diffuse thickening. Pleural diffuse thickening occurs when asbestos damages the pleura causing it to thicken. When this happens in some isolated regions of the cavity it’s called pleural plaques. Pleural effusion occurs due to the build-up of fluids in the cavity caused by the scarring. Rounded atelectasis is the folding of the pleural fibrosis which blocks the air from entering that part. Symptoms of pleural diseases include shortness of breath, though they take ten to twenty years of exposure to asbestos to occur. Many don’t suffer breathing problems but their lungs don’t work as well as they should.
Asbestos can also cause lung cancer after a long period of exposure, that’s why it’s considered a carcinogen. Symptoms include weight loss, fever, shortness of breath and chest pain but to be sure scans are needed as these symptoms are common. Smokers are especially vulnerable.
It is rare cancer that affects the membranes of the chest cavity, abdominal cavity, lungs, and other internal organs. It remains dormant for thirty to forty years and is fatal. Symptoms include chest pain, shoulder pain, dry cough, weight loss, weakness, and fever. Early diagnosis could save the patient’s life.
Other Harmful Effects
Asbestos is also associated with cancers of the larynx, pharynx, ovaries, stomach, and colorectum. The obstructive nature of these fibers could also result in chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD) like asthma, bronchitis, etc. Studies suggest a correlation between asbestos and retroperitoneal fibrosis, i.e. the development of a fibrous mass behind the abdominal cavity which can cause kidney failure. It has also been associated with the weakening of the immune system.
Who Are At Risk?
People at risk of asbestos exposure include those working in asbestos mines, asbestos processing, and manufacturing companies, construction, car manufacture, plumbing, mechanics, asbestos removal, etc. Their family members are also at risk of exposure. People who live in old homes are also at risk. Smokers are at the highest risk of developing asbestos-related diseases due to weaker lungs. In most cases, it takes years to develop any symptoms which are usually shortness of breath, dry cough, and chest pain.
While it’s impossible to remove asbestos, it’s possible to avoid further damage by avoiding exposure to it. People who work in such industries should wear protective gear, old buildings should be sampled for asbestos and quitting cigarettes can also help. Getting yourself scanned can also help you detect the problem before it builds-up. If possible, industrial asbestos removal in Colorado Springs should be conducted.