Asbestos is the term for a group of minerals made up of microscopic fibres that can have negative effects on your health. It can prove to be one of the most dangerous substances for an individual to come into contact with, particularly in the construction industry. One of the most worrying facts about asbestos is that is can take years before those who have been in contact with it become ill from it.
These days, people believe that the risks associated with asbestos are no longer a threat to our health, mainly because the substance has been banned for years, but the fibres can still exist in buildings, and therefore, still pose a risk to workers.
Asbestos is found in three forms, commonly known as brown, blue, and white asbestos. The brown and blue forms of asbestos are more dangerous than white asbestos, and have been banned from use for longer.
The people most at risk for asbestos-related health conditions are workers who are, or have been, involved in refurbishment, maintenance, or other related trades. Asbestos is found in all types of buildings, especially older ones from before the complete ban of asbestos in 1999. It’s found in common building materials, including cement products and sprayed coatings. It can also be found behind fuse boxes, and even in toilet seats.
Asbestos takes the lives of around 5000 workers each year. It’s a natural material that can be mined from the earth, and it can stay dormant in the body for a number of years before it becomes apparent that you’ve gotten ill from the substance. Usually, it can take 15 to 35 years before any lung-related illnesses from asbestos, like lung cancer, become apparent.
Asbestos is essentially a silent killer. It is the cause of a large amount of illnesses, particularly effecting the lungs, and because it doesn’t make itself known for so long, it can be hard to catch early. Asbestosis is a long-term chronic lung disease, caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos. Breathing in asbestos fibres can lead to severe scarring of the lungs, and can make you present symptoms like fatigue, shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing. Individuals that develop asbestosis are more likely to present other asbestos-related illnesses, which are likely to result in the death of the individual.
Mesothelioma is a kind of cancer of the cells that make up the membrane covering the surface of most of our organs. This illness is almost always caused by asbestos exposure, and can develop up to 60 years after exposure has occurred. There’s also pleural thickening, another lung disease where the thin membrane covering the lung becomes scarred, which can cause a loss in the breathing function.
Artisan Surveyors are an environmental building service that specialise in the management and sample testing of asbestos-related areas. They offer their services across the south, London, and the Midlands, so if you’re concerned about asbestos in a building near you, they may be the next phone call you should make.