Most asbestos fibres that are inhaled and reach the respiratory tract are expelled. However, some can remain lodged in the lungs and remain for the rest of life.
These asbestos fibres can accumulate and cause scarring and manifestations of inflammation leading to obstructions that limit respiratory capacity leading to chronic obstructive disease, among other possibilities.
Among these diseases is asbestosis, but in turn, it is reported that it can increase the risk of lung cancer, mesothelioma, and non-malignant alterations in the lungs and pleura.
This occurrence has been demonstrated in epidemiological studies mainly in workers exposed to asbestos in different occupational activities.
These studies demonstrate the increased incidence of respiratory diseases in villages and in diverse regions of the world that have traditionally used tremolite asbestos limes in homes.
In fact, since 1930, it ceased to be used as a component of building materials.
The characteristics of the disease depend on how long the person was exposed to asbestos and the amount accumulated consequence of how much was inhaled. It is so often that people do not notice symptoms for 20 years or more after exposure to asbestos.
An aggravating aspect that accelerates the disease progression of those people exposed to asbestos and who in turn have the habit of smoking, and in that way increases the risk of suffering from these diseases related to asbestos.
But even cases have been reported in the families of workers exposed to asbestos and who are subjected to the presence of particles brought to the house in the worker’s own clothes.
Several symptoms appear that depend on the type of disease that accompanies the asbestos accumulation. Among these manifestations we find:
- Chest pain
- A persistent and productive cough, that is, a cough that produces mucus
- Difficulty breathing with excessive exertion that worsens slowly over time
- Decreased respiratory capacity
- Loss of appetite
- Dry, crunchy sound that occurs in the lungs when inhaled.
Other diseases related to asbestos
There are many other diseases related to exposure to asbestos among which are:
- Calcification in the pleura
- Pleural cancer, which can develop between 20 to 40 years after exposure
- Pleural effusion, which is a collection of fluid that develops around the lung some years after exposure to asbestos
- Cancer of the lungs
Workers today are less likely to suffer from asbestos- related diseases because of the stringent existing legislation prohibiting their use or manipulation.
Also reported in the medical literature are studies of workers exposed to asbestos suggesting that being or having been related to asbestos could establish one associated with gastrointestinal cancers, particularly of the oesophagus and stomach; as well as colorectal.
However, the evidence is inconclusive and remains a question unanswered.
These studies showed small increases in the number of deaths from gastrointestinal and colorectal cancers. For example, among 17,800 isolate workers, 99 people died from these cancers, although the rate in the general population is assumed to be 59.4 deaths.
However, other studies of worker mortality that were related to asbestos did not show that the risk of developing gastrointestinal or colorectal cancer would show statistically significant increases.
Other reviewers found no causal relationship between worker exposure to asbestos and gastrointestinal cancer.
Tests and tests to confirm the diagnosis
When listening to the chest with a stethoscope, the doctor can hear a crunching sound called rales. In the face of suspicion, several tests can be done that can help diagnose the disease:
- Chest x-ray
- Radiographic image of the lungs
- Pulmonary Tomography
- Pulmonary Function Tests
There is no treatment to cure. Asbestos exposure should be suppressed. The measures are conducive to relieving symptoms by using an aerosol to lower lung fluids.
People with this condition may need to receive oxygen by mask. Some patients may need a lung transplant.
The result depends on the amount of asbestos you were exposed to and the time that elapsed as the exposure period.
Health effects and exposure to asbestos can continue to progress even after the exposure is suspended.
How to treat asbestos in an old house
Older homes are more likely to have asbestos-containing materials than new homes. For example, old homes built between 1930 and 1950 are more likely to have asbestos in insulation.
Asbestos is a mineral fibre actually, which means it can be part of many different types of materials, from vinyl tile to ceiling painting. This fibre can be very dangerous to your health and cause serious problems such as lung cancer.
In the treatment of asbestos in your home, use extreme caution and follow the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommendations.
1. Understand where asbestos could be found in an old house.Some common areas include ceilings, coatings, insulation, textured paint, composite patches, stove pellets, vinyl flooring and lining of hot water and steam pipes.
2. Regularly check all areas of your home that appear or may contain asbestos. If there is no damage, such as water damage or structural damage, then the asbestos fibres will not get released. The EPA recommends leaving these areas alone and checking frequently.
3. Research what to look for in an asbestos professional. These professionals are trained and certified to handle and dispose of materials containing asbestos.
Contact your state health department to learn about the certification, training and specific clearance needed for asbestos professionals in your state.
4. Hire a professional Adelaide Asbestos Removal to seal or cover small areas of asbestos or damaged areas that are most vulnerable to damage, such as furnace and insulation from boilers or pipes with exposed insulation. Only a certified professional should perform this asbestos treatment.
5. Have an approved asbestos professional test and remove any seriously damaged asbestos or if you are planning a home renovation that requires damaging the asbestos material.
Again, only a certified professional must handle and dispose of asbestos, according to the EPA.
Tips & Warnings
Do not try to obtain samples of materials in your home that may contain asbestos for testing. Leave that to a certified professional as it can be extremely dangerous if the fibres are released.