October 25, 2011

asbestos poisoning

Before we discuss the term 'asbestos poisoning', let's have a look at some basics surrounding the material itself. Asbestos is a fibrous mineral that is found in nature. It has been used liberally and widely in buildings and other constructions for over 100 years. The fibers of asbestos are durable and sturdy, yet, flexible and extremely resistant to heat. Asbestos can be found in a broad variety of products, such as flooring and ceiling tiles, house siding, roof shingles, pipe insulations, etc. To give you some numbers: a study that was conducted not too long ago, indicated that in the Unites States alone, asbestos has been used an estimated 30 million tons and can be found in over 3,000 products in industries like automotive, textile, electronics and construction.

However, the material was proven to be dangerous since a clear link between asbestos exposure and severe health effects was established. When we talk about asbestos poisoning, we refer to any illness or injury that was caused by the exposure to asbestos. It is important to note that if asbestos remains unhampered and undisturbed, no health risk is imminent. Asbestos is friable which means that it can be broken up under only a fairly small amount of pressure. As a result, the minerals separate into microscopically small dust particles. As these particles get airborne, they may be inhaled by anyone onsite or in close proximity, which can cause a number of severe health conditions, such as mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis. A high risk of asbestos poisoning is posed to people with occupational exposure to the hazardous material.

In the early 1900s, researchers and the medical community reported an emerging trend of newly diagnosed patients and fatalities in workers holding jobs in asbestos mines and the asbestos manufacturing industries. Because of the long latency time of asbestos induced diseases, it took another few decades until the problem manifested itself in its entirety. Thousands of people got diagnosed and often died within a matter of months thereafter.

Asbestosis is comparable to an inflammation. It occurs when asbestos fibers are ingested or inhaled and get trapped inside the lungs. As the body's own defense mechanism kicks in, an acidy substance is being produced with the objective to dissolve the fibers. However, the acid does unfortunately have no impact on the asbestos, but directly affects the lung tissue which over course of time, results in scarring. The scarring impairs the regular functionality of the lungs.

Mesothelioma is cancerous and fatal. It is the only illness that is solely linked to asbestos exposure. Lung cancer is ranked number one worldwide among the most lethal cancers. Smokers who are exposed to asbestos are at a significantly increased risk of developing the disease.