As the use of asbestos expanded, scientists began to link exposure and the inhalation of fibres to several respiratory diseases. Although not at that stage considered life-threatening, it wasn’t long before it was directly linked as the main cause of a fatal illness – Mesothelioma; a rare and incurable cancer.
Today, asbestos is now known to be either the direct cause or a contributing factor in the following diseases and respiratory conditions:
Asbestos Related Cancers:
- Mesothelioma – A rare and incurable cancer that develops in the thin layer of tissue covering many internal organs. It most commonly develops in the lining of the lungs and chest wall. By the time it is diagnosed, it is almost always fatal
- Lung Cancer – This is one of the most common and serious types of cancer. It affects the air passages and smokers exposed to asbestos are at a much higher risk of developing lung cancer
- Laryngeal Cancer – Cancer of the larynx (voice box); airborne fibres can collect in the laryngeal tissue as they must pass through the larynx to reach the lungs
- Ovarian Cancer – Can develop in one or both ovaries; linked to both occupational/second-hand asbestos exposure as well as contaminated talcum powder products
Non-malignant Asbestos Related Disease:
- Asbestosis – Severe scarring and inflammation of lung tissue. Though benign, it can progress and lead to fatal complications
- Pleural Plaques – Calcified build ups on the pleura (external lining of the lung). Can be painful but are not life-threatening
- Pleural Thickening – Lesions on the pleural lining of the lung which can thicken and decrease lung function. Again, normally not life-threatening but can be fatal if it becomes severe enough to prevent adequate air flow.
In the United Kingdom alone, there are still more than 5000 asbestos related deaths per year. Despite asbestos having been banned completely in the UK in 1999, significant quantities remain, within thousands of properties. This means you could still be exposed, even today, potentially on a daily basis, depending on your occupation and workplace.
If there is even the slightest danger that you may be exposed, do not take the chance, contact JAX to get it checked. The cost of checking for the presence of asbestos is far less than you may think; and it could save your life.