Exposure to asbestos poses a series of potential health risks. Any person who comes into contact with asbestos is susceptible to any number of serious illnesses, so it’s important to know these health risks in order to understand the dangers of asbestos exposure.
How are Asbestos-Related Illnesses Contracted?
Asbestos-related illnesses are airborne, so they are contracted simply by breathing asbestos particles into the lungs. Asbestos particles can live in lungs for long periods of time once they have settled.
Asbestosis is when scar tissue develops around the lungs as a way to fight off the asbestos particles that have settled there. This excess scar tissue hardens the lungs, making it difficult to breathe. Other symptoms include weight loss and a dry cough. While it can sometimes take 10 to 20 years for any symptoms to develop, this condition is irreversible and potentially fatal.
Asbestos exposure can also lead to lung cancer. Asbestos exposure for a period of four to six months can significantly increase the risk of lung cancer. Similar to asbestosis, lung cancer may not develop until 15 to 25 years after the initial exposure to asbestos. Smokers have the highest risk of developing lung cancer through asbestos exposure—the combination of smoking and asbestos exposure is seven times more likely to cause lung cancer than smoking alone.
Malignant mesothelioma is a fatal form of cancer that attacks the lining of the lungs or the lining of the abdominal cavity. Although the condition is extremely rare, asbestos exposure increases the chances of contracting it. Again, the condition may take as long as 50 years after the initial asbestos exposure to develop.
These are the major conditions associated with asbestos exposure, but there are others as well. There is no safe amount of asbestos exposure. Even breathing in a small amount can lead to any number of potentially fatal respiratory illnesses. Keep your building safe by having it checked for asbestos. If you have even the smallest reason to believe that there is asbestos in your building, contact us to have it professionally checked and removed.