There is an extremely toxic mineral that chemists knew as a group of fibrous hydrated mineral silicates that includes amosite, anthophyllite, chrysotile, and crocidolite and collectively known by people as asbestos. This mineral can cause a variety of diseases though it is slow in attacking the body but in most cases, it can really be deadly. Several mining companies and industries which make use of asbestos are now being charged by workers who became victims. Thus, a greater risk for people is at stake for it is also emerging in home renovators today. It is said to be that the largest percentage rate of new cases of the fatal cancer called mesothelioma is the people who are working in home building industries.
True enough, asbestos has been the leading building product during the post World War 2 because of it features: durable, light, strong, waterproof, fireproof, and an excellent insulator. In Australia during 1945 and 1980, it was used in various construction industries, boiler makers, shipyards, plumbing and power stations. It was also popular in building homes which is usually used in ceiling tiles, fibro cement, fireproofing, floor coverings, insulation, paint, pipes, and roofing materials. It was a local and a global demand that made it mined in Australia and exported to other countries all over the world.
However, asbestos is critical to human health. It is highly toxic which may lead to several lung diseases due to inhalation of fibers. These fibers may cause fibrous stiffening, contraction of the lungs, lung cancer such as mesothelioma that is chiefly fatal and fast growing.
Lung disease and asbestos are linked beginning in the early 1900s. Though mining companies have already been cautioned to avoid exposure to it, nevertheless they employed asbestos in their manufacturing processes and did not take action in protecting their workers from it. It was only during the 1970s that more people become alarmed to the risks asbestos are bringing to human health. Because of this, mining of asbestos was pulled out and companies and industries using asbestos before used alternatives such as fiberglass. In 2004, asbestos cannot be used, recycled or imported anymore.
Depending on the age of asbestos fibers, its colors range from blue which is the mainly the dangerous of all, brown or amosite, and white or chrysotile which is the less dangerous of all. In 1967, the blue asbestos fibers were banned in Australia. The brown asbestos was phased out in 1984 while the white asbestos in 1989.
Moreover, it is very slow to affirm diseases related to asbestos. Usually, there is a delay of 20 years or more from the time exposed before symptoms of it became visible. Some symptoms even became visible after 30 or 40 years. There are also situations in Australia when people die even before symptoms are cured and compensations for cure are paid.
There are a number of reasons why asbestos is very dangerous to human health. What makes asbestos extremely risky is its tiny size that makes it easier to become submerged into air. It can easily pass into the tiniest airways and air sacs inside our lungs where the fatal transfer of oxygen into the blood happens and may result to serious harm.
Diseases that may result from highly exposure to asbestos may be found below. Knowledge of these diseases may increase people’s awareness of the dangers of asbestos.
Benign plural disease. The pleura is the double-sided lining located at the outer part of the lung which aids in expanding and contracting during breathing. The irritation, thickening and inflammation of the pleura is one of the causes of inhaled asbestos fibers. Pleural effusion occurs during the thickening of the pleura in patches or plaques which involves secretion of fluid into the pleural cavity or the space between two pleural layers. Though benign plural disease can hinder the expanding and contracting of the lungs and even restricting normal breathing, it is not dangerous or fatal at all. Pleural effusion can even be drained to ease lack of breathe. The doctor will pass a needle into the chest wall and into the pleural cavity in order to drain the fluid. If ever the fluid amasses again, the process is repeated.
Lung cancer. This type of cancer is very rare and prone to people who have been exposed to asbestos fibers. Smoking, whether heavy or light, is a way to enhance this condition and the chances of acquiring lung cancer will be increased radically. The symptoms of lung cancer may include coughing, blood in the sputu, weight loss, and incurable infections in the chest. To be able to diagnosed this, X-rays or CT and MRI scans, as well as bronchoscopy can be done. During the bronchoscopy, an elongated tube called bronchoscope is entered through the mouth, windpipe and into the lungs where the cancer can be seen. Then, a specimen will be taken out and will be examined by a pathologist. Of course, mesothelioma diagnosis should be early so that the treatment will have better results. Early lung cancer can also be cured by surgery. But if the cancer has widely spread outside the lungs and into the lymph nodes in the chest or other body organs through the blood stream, it is impossible to cure anymore. Using radiotherapy, symptoms can easily be detected.
Asbestosis or fibrosis. This condition is the scarring of the lungs due to high exposures of asbestos. The airways of the lungs become so inflamed and scarred that oxygen can no longer pass from the lungs and into the blood. Stiffness of the lungs occur and breathing becomes entirely difficult. The symptoms includes tightening of the chess, dry coughing, and bluish tinge of the skin due to lack of oxygen later on. A kind of fibrosis in the lungs usually lasts for ten years after exposure but the symptoms becomes worst as time goes by. However, only people who are highly exposed can be victims like asbestos miners, asbestos manufacturers, and insulation workers. This condition has no cure though oxygen supply at home can help.