Asbestos can cause serious illness.
Asbestos fibres can cause health problems during exposure to it. The particles in asbestos can become airborne and easily breathed into the lungs. Although most fibres breathed in during exposure are removed from your lungs by your body’s natural defences (e.g. by being coughed up and then swallowed), some fibres can remain in the lungs.
The possible health effects of asbestos are:
Asbestosis: A chronic and progressive lung disease caused by inhaling asbestos fibres over a long period of time, possibly taking 5 to 20 years before symptoms develop.
Mesothelioma: Rare cancer that affects the pleura (the outer covering of the lungs), strongly associated with past exposure to asbestos. It can take 30 to 40 years to develop and currently has no cure available.
Lung Cancer: People exposed to large amounts of asbestos fibres over a long period of time have a significant risk of developing cancer, previous cases have seen it develop over the span of 10 to 20 years.
These diseases can sometimes take up to 50 years to develop, however it is important to prevent these from happening at all. There may be some treatments for asbestos related diseases, but there are currently no known cures.
It may affect your family.
Workers involved in the construction industries may have been exposed to asbestos or asbestos containing materials (ACM) in the period before their discontinued use in the 1980s stringent ban in 2003. Moreover, families of these workers may also have been exposed to fibres attached to workers’ clothing.
This is the last installment of Archi-QS’s segment series for Asbestos Awareness Month. However moving forward, as a community, we should continue educating and informing our industry peers with the methods necessary to identify and work safely with asbestos to build a better environment.