Why is Asbestos Bad? Understanding the risks and Protecting Yourself.

by Emilia Dudova, on Jun 12, 2023 1:39:52 PM


Understanding Asbestos:

Asbestos refers to a group of naturally occurring minerals with exceptional heat resistance and durability. Asbestos has been extensively used in the past for insulation, flooring, roofing, and pipes, due to its fire-retardant properties. It's been discovered, however, that its microscopic fibers become airborne when disturbed, posing a severe health risk if inhaled or ingested.

Health Risks Associated with Asbestos:

  1. Mesothelioma: Prolonged exposure to asbestos fibers can cause mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive form of cancer that affects the lungs, abdomen, or heart. Unfortunately, this disease often goes undetected until its advanced stages.
  2. Lung Cancer: Asbestos exposure is also strongly linked to lung cancer, particularly among individuals who smoke or have a history of smoking. The combination of smoking and asbestos exposure significantly increases the risk of developing lung cancer.
  3. Asbestosis: Inhalation of asbestos fibers over an extended period can lead to asbestosis, a chronic lung condition characterized by scarring and inflammation. This condition can impair lung function, causing breathing difficulties, persistent coughing, and fatigue.
  4. Other Cancers: Apart from mesothelioma and lung cancer, asbestos exposure has been associated with various other cancers, including ovarian, laryngeal, and gastrointestinal.

Protecting Yourself from Asbestos Risks:

  1. Identification and Assessment: If you live in an older home or work in a building constructed before the 1980s, consider hiring a professional asbestos inspector to assess the presence of asbestos-containing materials. Identifying and addressing asbestos risks proactively can help minimize exposure.
  2. Professional Removal: If asbestos-containing materials are found, it is crucial to hire a licensed asbestos abatement professional. Removing asbestos material without prior training and proper equipment can release a significant amount of toxins into the air, further endangering your health.
  3. Safety Precautions: If you suspect the presence of asbestos or are working in an environment where asbestos might be present, follow safety protocols. This includes wearing protective gear like masks and gloves. Ensuring proper ventilation to minimize the chances of inhaling airborne fibers is also essential.
  4. Regular Maintenance: If you have asbestos-containing materials in your home or workplace that are intact and undisturbed, it is generally safe to leave them in place. However, regular monitoring and maintenance are crucial to prevent deterioration and fiber release.
  5. Seeking Professional Help: If you have concerns about potential asbestos exposure or are experiencing symptoms related to asbestos-related diseases, consult a healthcare professional experienced in occupational or environmental medicine.

While the use of asbestos has significantly declined over the years due to known risks, exposure is still ongoing. By understanding the dangers of asbestos, recognizing its presence, and taking appropriate steps to minimize asbestos risks, we can safeguard our health and protect ourselves from its adverse effects. Asbestos safety goes hand in hand with regular monitoring, professional assistance, and a proactive approach can go a long way in ensuring a safe and asbestos-free environment for everyone.

At Irwin's, our safety professionals are trained in asbestos inspection and testing. Our experts use specialized equipment and techniques to collect samples and analyze them in accredited laboratories. By identifying the presence of asbestos accurately, we can assess the level of risk and determine the appropriate course of action. 

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