Why is Asbestos Harmful to Health?

Why is Asbestos Harmful to Health?

Asking why Asbestos is harmful to health is important because asbestos is a “group of minerals made of microscopic fibres” used in the construction of buildings, found in flooring and roofing as it is a good insulator. The dangers and risks asbestos posed change the way the asbestos was handled in the UK, particularly making it outlawed since. However, older buildings and houses created around or before the year 2000 may still have the substance inside them. This is why is it important to know about the dangers and risks Asbestos may pose, the provisions for safe removal and employer’s responsibilities in protecting staff members.

Asbestos in houses is normally safe when solidly constructed and left undisturbed. However, it becomes a health and safety risk when it is damaged, releasing tiny fibres into the air and potentially causing lung damage if it is inhaled. The more you are exposed to the fibres, the more is inhaled and the more likely it becomes of developing health problems down the line.

Certain types of workers are more exposed to the dangers of the material, including builders and carpenters who are working in and around homes that may have been built before 2000. In addition, smokers, those of older age and those who have a high duration of exposure to fibres all are all people who could eventually experience problems with their well-being. All employers must be proficient in awareness and promoting the risks of related health conditions, in order to protect members of staff who would potentially disturb deposits of the material. Employers may be liable to penalties if they are found to violate UK health and safety legislation, such as the 2006 Control of Asbestos Regulations Act.

What are the Health Risks Associated with Asbestos?

In the long term, prolonged exposure to fibres can lead to a variety of serious conditions, including asbestosis, mesothelioma and potentially some other forms of cancer that may have very little in the way of treatments. These tend to be very serious conditions, as these kinds of diseases can develop over numerous years and go unnoticed until it is too late.

Asbestosis is a serious disease associated with the lungs, and can occur when the inhaled fibres “aggravate lung tissues, causing them to scar”. According to the NHS, there are many symptoms of asbestosis, which include a tight chest, shortness of breath, chest pain and a persistent cough. If the condition turns serious, it can lead to lung cancer and mesothelioma. There isn’t a treatment for this kind of physical damage to the lungs, only treatments to aid in minimising the pain.

Mesothelioma is a very rare type or cancer that can occur in the lining of the lungs and other bodily organs. NHS statistics state that more than 2,600 people suffer from the condition annually, mostly in people between the ages of 60 and 80 as it takes years for these kinds of conditions to take effect. Symptoms of mesothelioma in the lungs (or pleural thickening) are similar to asbestosis symptoms, however when it occurs in the stomach lining you may experience tummy pain, loss of appetite and feeling sick. NHS outlooks for patients with the disease are unfortunately very low, with only 50% of people living for one year after diagnosis, and just 10% living for five years.

Forms of cancer including that of the lungs can occur from a long exposure to fibres. Lung cancer from the potentially hazardous material is similar to cancer caused by smoking and has similar symptoms. Treatments include chemotherapy, immunotherapy and types of surgery to remove the tumour from the body.

You can view our Asbestos Awareness online training course here.