Is asbestos dangerous? When is it dangerous? As mentioned elsewhere on our website, Asbestos is only dangerous once it enters your body. It can enter your body when you breathe it in. Contrary to popular belief, asbestos does not cause harm as long as it is contained and as long as it does not release asbestos fibres or dust in the air but when it does and you inhale it, it will lead to serious health consequences. These microscopic fibres are small enough to enter your body and they can get trapped and lodged in the mucous membranes of your nose and your throat. If they get stuck in the nose and throat it can still be removed but once it goes further down into your digestive tract or your lungs, it will be difficult if not impossible to take them out thereby causing you to suffer from health problems.
When is it dangerous?
The toxic form of asbestos is when it is friable. This means that asbestos can be disintegrated using your hand as this can cause asbestos fibres to be released in the air. Floor tiles, ceiling tiles, siding shingles, fire doors and undamaged cabinet tops that are left undisturbed will not release asbestos fibres. However, when the tiles are broken or drilled then asbestos fibres can dissipate in the air and this will endanger your health. Otherwise, it won’t cause any problems.
The deterioration or the damage of the material that contains asbestos increases the friability of the material. Aging, vibration, water damage, physical impact like cutting, buffing, grinding, striking, sawing or drilling further breaks down the material causing it to release toxic asbestos fibres.
How can it affect your health?
Since asbestos is difficult to destroy it’s safe to say that once the fibres get inside your body, it can be impossible to get them out especially if they have lodged securely in your body’s tissues. They will stay there and destroy your healthy cells and create a number of diseases. The three most common disease conditions that are associated with asbestos are asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.
Asbestosis is a chronic respiratory disease that affects your lung tissues. It is a non-cancerous disease yet is capable of causing death through cardiac failure. It occurs when a person inhales asbestos fibres. The fibres get lodged in the lung tissues irritating the tissues and then ultimately leaving them scarred. The scarring will compromise your ability to breathe and it will impede the delivery of oxygen to the bloodstream. Other terms of asbestosis are interstitial pneumonitis and pulmonary fibrosis.
Lung cancer is one of the major consequences of asbestos exposure. People who work in the milling, mining and manufacturing of products that contain asbestos have an increased risk of developing lung cancer. Some of the symptoms of lung cancer include shortness of breath, coughing up of blood or rusty-colored phlegm, fatigue, and weight loss and hoarseness.
Mesothelioma is another form of cancer that affects individuals who are exposed to asbestos. According to statistics, an estimated 2% of textile workers and miners who work with asbestos-containing products and 10% of workers who participated in the manufacturing of gas masks that contained asbestos contracted the disease.
In a nutshell, asbestos is only harmful when it is in its friable state. If and when you suspect that asbestos is in its non-friable state you should contact a qualified asbestos removal professional to deal with the asbestos for the safety of everyone.