When Do Asbestos Fibers Become Toxic?

A lot of materials in homes and workplaces contain asbestos fibers which can be easily inhaled or ingested. When such materials get inside the body, they can be difficult to remove, and that is how they lead to health problems. However, scientists say that these materials are not dangerous as long as the fibers are not loose enough to fill the air. If you are wondering whether you are safe, you may want to know that the various forms of asbestos affect the body in different ways. In addition to that, people react differently when they are exposed to the fibers.

Materials that Contain Asbestos

Before the 1980s, most building materials were laced with asbestos to make them more durable and stringer. That is the reason ceiling boards, floor tiles, laboratory countertops, fire doors, and shingles contained a significant amount of this mineral. However, as people became more aware of their health and safety, this practice was changed. The problem is that most of the houses that were constructed during that time still contain the mineral, and therefore, the problem was not eliminated. According to scientists, these asbestos-containing materials cannot be harmful as long as the fibers are not friable. The threat sets in when they become lose and start filling the air around with tiny fibers.

Health Effects of Asbestos

The asbestos threat affects people from all over the works and leads to numerous health problems. The biggest one is asbestosis, a condition that is non-cancerous but chronic. The disease affects the respiratory system. Another condition associated with this substance is mesothelioma. Although this is a rare condition, it affects the membranes of the lungs, chest, and other body parts. It is cancerous and can lead to further complications including difficulty in breathing. In addition to these diseases, asbestos has been known to cause lung cancer. These conditions underline the need of prospecting everyone from exposure to the minerals.

Factors Affecting the Severity of the Effects

Different types of people react to asbestos exposure in different ways. However, some groups have proved to be more vulnerable. For example, those who are too old are likely to be hard-hit by such fibers. Children who are still too young are at greater risk too. If you are exposed to the fibers for too long, the effects are likely to be direr. However, you can use special gear such as face masks to stay safe from such effects. Other conditions include lifestyle choices such as smoking and excessive drinking.

If you use a building that has materials containing asbestos, you may want to avoid too much physical action on them. For example, vibrations, water damage, and similar actions are likely to increase their friability. Unless the fibers are loose enough to start coming off the materials, you are safe using that building. However, if you choose to remove asbestos materials, look for a professional who is licensed and who uses the safest methods to get rid of them.