When Are Asbestos-Containing Materials Dangerous?

Asbestos refers to a group of 6 natural and fibrous materials that are made out of extremely thin fibers. It is a material that can be very useful for strengthening other materials and for fire-proofing. However, due to the adverse effects it can have on our health, asbestos is banned in many countries. It is important to note that it is not currently banned in the United States, thus, we have to be aware and alert about asbestos exposure. Here at Iris Environmental Laboratories, we provide the most professional asbestos inspection services in the country for extremely affordable prices.

When are They Dangerous?

Essentially, the most common way for us to be harmed by asbestos fibers when it enters our body through our respiratory tract. Note that asbestos is generally non-harmful to our bodies unless it releases dust or needle-like fibers into the air, where it can then be transferred into our bodies. These fibers can easily lodge in our throats and noses. When this happens, we have to be sure to remove the fibers before it travels into our lungs. It is extremely dangerous when these fibers are trapped in our body.

Asbestos-carrying materials are most dangerous when they are “friable”. This means that it can be broken down easily and spread through the air. For example, spray-on asbestos insulation is much more dangerous than asbestos-containing plastic containers. What determines the friability of these materials is how much it has been damaged or deteriorated. This can be caused by water damage or even physical impacts.

Effects that Asbestos has on Our Health

Asbestos is harmful to our health and hard to eradicate once they have entered our bodies. This is because asbestos cannot be broken down by our bodies the moment they are lodged in our body tissues. Asbestos exposure causes three main health problems:

  1. Asbestosis: This is a chronic disease that attacks our respiratory system. Ultimately, the asbestos fibers irritate the lung tissues which results in scarring. Some symptoms that sufferers of this disease might face include shortness of breath and even cardiac failure. It is worrying to know that there is no known treatment for asbestosis. It usually leads to major health impairments and fatality.
  2. Lung cancer: This the most common cause of death from asbestos exposure. Many people who were exposed to asbestos fibers from mining and milling activities and suffered from lung cancer which proved fatal in the end. The most common symptoms of lung cancer include severe coughing and difficulties in breathing. Some people also experience severe chest pains and even anemia. The risks of getting lung cancer is much higher in people who are already exposed to other carcinogens. For example, people who smoke cigarettes can face a greater risk of getting lung cancer after asbestos exposure because their lungs are already more vulnerable as a result of cigarette smoke.
  3. Mesothelioma: This is a rarer form of cancer as compared to lung cancer and usually affects the lungs, the chest and the abdomen. Out of the estimated 200 cases reported every year in the United States, nearly all the mesothelioma cases are attributed to asbestos exposure.