Why Is Asbestos Very Dangerous?

May 17, 2016
Health - Asbestos is a natural silicate mineral made up of tiny fibers. Under certain conditions, asbestos can generate dust containing asbestos fibers. The entry of asbestos fibers into the lungs through breathing can cause a variety of health problems such as pleural plaques, asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.Asbestos is commonly used as raw material for building because it is considered fireproof, durable and efficient as cover material (cost). Recognizing the importance of health and the dangers of asbestos to the body, in the developed countries of the world asbestos is no longer used as a building material. But unfortunately, in Indonesia, almost every household we can find asbestos material.

Exposure to airborne asbestos particles is the greatest risk to health. When the asbestos fibres become airborne, people working with asbestos may inhale particles. These particles remain in the lungs and, over time, can cause disease. A person’s chance of developing asbestos-related disease depends on how much asbestos they were exposed to and for how long.

The use of asbestos was probably at its highest in the mid to late 1970s, but asbestos cement products like asbestos flues and water pipes were still being installed into the 1990s. Asbestos use in brake linings and pads and clutch plates has only recently been phased out.

People who were involved in the following industries in the past were at greatest risk:

    Mining and manufacture of asbestos
    Railway carriage construction
    Office and industrial building construction
    Power industries.

Asbestos can cause the following fatal and serious diseases:

Mesothelioma is a cancer which affects the lining of the lungs (pleura) and the lining surrounding the lower digestive tract (peritoneum). It is almost exclusively related to asbestos exposure and by the time it is diagnosed, it is almost always fatal.
Asbestos-related lung cancer

Asbestos-related lung cancer is the same as (looks the same as) lung cancer caused by smoking and other causes. It is estimated that there is around one lung cancer for every mesothelioma death.

Asbestosis is a serious scarring condition of the lung that normally occurs after heavy exposure to asbestos over many years. This condition can cause progressive shortness of breath, and in severe cases can be fatal.

When is Asbestos Dangerous?

The most common way for asbestos fibers to enter the body is through breathing. In fact, asbestos containing material is not generally considered to be harmful unless it is releasing dust or fibers into the air where they can be inhaled or ingested. Many of the fibers will become trapped in the mucous membranes of the nose and throat where they can then be removed, but some may pass deep into the lungs, or, if swallowed, into the digestive tract. Once they are trapped in the body, the fibers can cause health problems.

Asbestos is most hazardous when it is friable. The term "friable" means that the asbestos is easily crumbled by hand, releasing fibers into the air. Sprayed on asbestos insulation is highly friable. Asbestos floor tile is not.

Asbestos-containing ceiling tiles, floor tiles, undamaged laboratory cabinet tops, shingles, fire doors, siding shingles, etc. will not release asbestos fibers unless they are disturbed or damaged in some way. If an asbestos ceiling tile is drilled or broken, for example, it may release fibers into the air. If it is left alone and not disturbed, it will not.
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