What are the warning signs of asbestos-related illness?
There exist a number of illnesses associated with exposure to asbestos, most notably asbestosis. Asbestosis is a chronic lung disease that is caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibers. Prolonged exposure can cause scarring within the lung tissue and shortness of breath. While the symptoms can range from mild to severe, asbestosis symptoms usually don’t appear until many years after continuous exposure. Over time, asbestosis continues scarring lung tissue to the point where lung tissue is unable to contract and expand normally.
What are the risk factors for asbestos-related illness?
People who worked in mining, milling, manufacturing, installation or removal of asbestos products before the late 1970s are at the greatest risk of asbestosis. Some examples of these jobs include:
- Asbestos miners,
- Aircraft and auto mechanics,
- Boiler operators,
- Building construction wokers,
- Railroad workers,
- Shipyard workers, and
- Workers removing asbestos insulation around steam pipes in old buildings
Other factors that may increase the risk for asbestos-related illness include exposure to asbestos by way of:
- Insulation in walls and attics
- Vinyl tiles used for floors
- Siding on houses
- Heat-resistant fabrics, and
- Car brakes
When handled, the fibers from asbestos separate easily. They are too small to see and easy to breathe in. Asbestos fibers can easily build up in the lungs and cause health problems.
Some of the health problems associated with asbestos include:
- lung cancer,
- pleural effusion (a type of pleurisy),
- pleural plaques (hard structures around the lungs and diaphragm), and
- thickening of the lung tissue.
Smokers are at greater risk for asbestos-related illness since cigarette smoke irritates lung tissue.
As mentioned previously, the signs and symptoms of asbestos-related lung diseases can vary depending upon the disease and how much it has damaged your lungs. Symptoms may include shortness of breath or a chronic cough and take as long as 10 to 40 years to develop.
If you believe your home or building contains harmful asbestos, you should have your property evaluated by asbestos abatement specialists like the experienced and professional technicians at Rarefied Air Environmental. Only a professional can determine whether your building has asbestos if it may be affecting the health of its inhabitants.