Asbestos is not a word you want to hear when it comes to your home. All homeowners should be concerned if it’s discovered that their home has any asbestos-containing materials. Asbestos is a group of minerals with thin microscopic fibers. These fibers are resistant to heat, fire, chemicals and do not conduct electricity. Because of this, asbestos is excavated and used widely in the construction and automotive world, as well as other industries. When products containing asbestos are disturbed, the tiny fibers are released into the air. If breathed in, those tiny fibers can become trapped in the lungs and stay there for many years. Over time these fibers can accumulate and lead to serious health problems such as asbestosis and two well-known cancers: mesothelioma and lung cancer.
Mined and used commercially since the 1800s, asbestos has been used in many products, including: car brake shoes and clutch pads; building materials, including ceiling and floor tiles; paints; coatings; adhesives; plastics; vermiculite-containing garden products; and some talc-containing crayons. Due to federal regulations and health concerns, asbestos is much less widely used now than it was just a few decades ago.
Asbestos exposure may occur in the workplace, home, or community. Most cases of asbestos poisoning occur in asbestos workers; however, there is some evidence that family members of workers heavily exposed to asbestos face an increased risk of developing mesothelioma, possibly due to the exposure of asbestos fibers brought into the home on the clothing, skin, and hair. Cases of mesothelioma have also been seen in people living close to asbestos mines.
Several factors are involved in how asbestos exposure affects an individual, including:
- Level and length of asbestos exposure
- Size, shape and chemical makeup of the asbestos fibers
- The presence of other lung diseases
- Smoking also increases the risk of problems related to asbestos exposure
There are different forms of asbestos. Although all forms are considered hazardous, different types of asbestos fibers may be associated with different health risks. For example, the results of several studies suggest that amphibole forms (which have longer, more durable fibers) may be more harmful than chrysotile forms (which have curly fibers), particularly for mesothelioma risk, because they tend to stay in the lungs longer. The most common diseases caused by asbestos are asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer.
Asbestosis is fibrosis (scaring and thickening) of the lung tissue from high exposure to asbestos. This inflammatory condition of the lungs can cause shortness of breath, tremendous strain on the heart muscle, and eventually leads to death typically due to heart failure. Unfortunately there is no treatment for asbestosis.
Mesothelioma is a rare cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, chest cavity, or abdomen. If fibers are inhaled they penetrate the lung walls and cause cancer. If swallowed the fibers will penetrate to the stomach and cause cancer in the abdomen. This cancer is awfully aggressive and unfortunately has no cure either.
Lung cancer is a very common type of cancer and is among the deadliest. Many victims of lung cancer are already dying of asbestosis. Unless the cancer can be detected and surgically removed at an early stage, it spreads by blood and lymph nodes, leading to an early death.
Studies have shown an association between asbestos exposure and other cancers as well, including cancers of the gastrointestinal tract, throat, kidney, brain, bladder, voice box, gallbladder, and others. However, the evidence is inconclusive.
Most cases of asbestos-related cancer and other health problems occur 15 or more years after initial exposure to asbestos. Although these diseases take time to develop, once diagnosed the disease usually progresses rapidly and eventually leads to death. Now may be the time to take advantage of our $150 (plus lab sample cost) asbestos inspection to make sure your home is free of any asbestos-containing materials. Call Larry directly today at 562-818-6946.