Asbestos, once dubbed as a “magic mineral”, has now become one of the deadliest toxins known to mankind. What is asbestos? And how can this “magic mineral” harm our health? The reason why asbestos was hailed as a magic mineral is because of its remarkable intrinsic qualities that were widely used in a number of consumer products and construction materials. Asbestos fibres are flexible and soft and they are resistant to chemical corrosion, electricity and heat. The purest form of asbestos is a powerful insulator that can be combined with plastic, cement, paper or cloth to make them more durable. It is because of these qualities that asbestos became popular and it’s also because of these qualities that have made the same material dangerously toxic.
There are two main types of asbestos, the Serpentine asbestos (Chrysotile) and the Amphibole asbestos (Crociodlite, anthophyllite, actinolite, tremolite and amosite).
Why is asbestos dangerous and how can this mineral harm your health?
Asbestos fibres are very tiny. And since they are virtually microscopic, you can’t see them, you can’t taste them and neither can you smell them owing to their miniscule size. It’s tricky because people are not going to be aware that they have ingested or inhaled asbestos. Once you are exposed to asbestos you won’t exhibit the symptoms right away. It usually takes time. You see, when asbestos makes it inside your body, they don’t’ dissolve and it is impossible to get them out. Over time, the lodged asbestos fibres will create inflammation, further scarring and ultimately destroy the cells in your body.
Unfortunately, it takes time before you realize that your body has ingested asbestos. It usually takes around twenty to fifty years for the symptoms to manifest. This means that if you were recently diagnosed then it was probably caused by asbestos exposure years before modern safety regulations were established.
The chief cause of illnesses related to asbestos is occupational exposure followed by secondhand asbestos exposure. These illnesses are common among people who live in areas contaminated by asbestos or those who regularly use products that contain asbestos. The worst effects of asbestos happen when you are exposed to high concentrations of asbestos or if you are exposed to it on a regular basis. The more you are exposed to asbestos and the greater the accumulation of asbestos in your body, the more harmful it is to your cells. Unfortunately, there is no way to reverse the damage.
The diseases caused by asbestos include pleuritis, asbestosis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It also causes lung cancer, peritoneal mesothelioma and pleural mesothelioma.
In cases of asbestosis, a chronic respiratory disease, asbestos fibres are inhaled and irritate the lung tissues causing them to scar. For patients with asbestosis, the common symptoms include a dry and crackling sound in the lungs when the patient inhales and shortness of breath. In its advanced stage, patients often experience cardiac failure. There are no known treatments for asbestosis. The highest number of deaths associated with asbestos is lung cancer. The common symptoms of lung cancer include anemia, hoarseness, chest pains and shortness of breath. Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that results from asbestos exposure. This disease is common in workers who are involved in the manufacturing of asbestos products.
This is how asbestos harms your health. It is important that you have your home or building inspected for the presence of asbestos as a precautionary measure.