An Introduction to Asbestosis

You may have heard about asbestos and the issues surrounding this substance, but you probably haven’t heard of asbestosis, this is the reason why here at Croft Environmental we are eager to make sure we offer the best asbestos removal services possible. In this article, you’ll learn everything that you need to know about asbestosis and its causes.

What exactly is asbestos

Asbestos is made from 6 natural silicate minerals, together these materials had some amazing benefits, these include:

  • It was a strong material
  • It was great at soundproofing
  • It was affordable
  • it was electricity, fire and heat resistant

These properties made this great for insulation in wiring and buildings. Asbestos was woven into fabrics and mats due to its fire and heat resistance. Asbestos was also mixed with cement due to its high resistance to heat. With asbestos having so many uses it means that it was almost everywhere.

But here’s where the benefits end:

What is Asbestosis

Asbestosis is a fibrotic disease of the lungs caused by a prolonged inhalation of asbestos fibres, the asbestos fibres start damaging the tissue causing scarring. This scaring causes the lungs to become stiff and fibrotic.

This scaring and stiffness make it harder for oxygen to enter the bloodstream, this means that you’ll start experiencing shortness of breath and coughing.

Asbestosis is a type of pulmonary fibrosis; this condition is where the lung tissue becomes irreversibility scarred and becomes thickened.

Asbestosis usually develops about 10 – 40 years after inhalation of asbestos dust, this means that you probably won’t even know that you’ve been affected until at least 10 years later.

Asbestosis can also lead on to more serious diseases which include mesothelioma, lung cancer and malignancy.

Who is at risk?

Anyone could be at risk of asbestosis if they have been exposed to asbestos for long periods of time.

Here is a list of occupations that are more likely to develop asbestosis due to their risk of asbestos exposure.

  • Demolition workers
  • Construction workers
  • Building surveyors
  • Electricians
  • Firefighters
  • Maintenance staff
  • Miners
  • Plumbers
  • Textile workers
  • Gasfitters
  • Cable fitters
  • Carpenters
  • Heating engineers
  • Insulation Installers

This list isn’t a complete list of occupations but includes the most at risk.

Causes of Asbestosis?

Blue asbestos is behind the majority of asbestosis cases as blue asbestos can penetrate deeper into the lung, this means it causes more scaring than white asbestos.

Exposure to asbestos can lead to a wide range of deadly diseases

These fibres are ingested by macrophages (alveolar white blood cells) most of the macrophages are removed from the lungs but some will remain, these will activate and release a variety of inflammatory chemicals which will eventually lead to widespread fibrosis.

Here are some symptoms to look out for

  • A persistent cough
  • Crackling sound while breathing
  • Loss of weight and appetite
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Fatigue
  • Pain in your chest and or shoulder
  • In extreme cases swollen fingertips

Getting diagnosed

If you believe that you might be developing asbestosis, then you should go see your local GP. Your GP might be able to hear crackling within your lungs and will recommend an X-ray to help see if they can see the scarring.

If you have asbestosis, you’ll be referred to a specialist for more tests like a CT scan, pulmonary function test.

Treatment

Unfortunately, there isn’t a cure for asbestosis, asbestos creates irreversible lung damage.

Treatment is used to reduce the symptoms of asbestosis like shortness of breath and chest pains.

There are ways to reduce the symptoms, these include:

  • Quitting smoking, smoking will only make the symptoms worse and increase the risk of lung cancer
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation is a programme which can help you regain muscle strength and improves fitness
  • Oxygen therapy is another option that can help with the low level of oxygen in your blood
  • Medications can thin the lung secretions, making it easier to cough and can relieve chest pains.
  • In the last resort treatment, a lung transplant may be considered, but this is a very invasive and might not be very successful. Though this treatment is only really considered when asbestosis is accompanied by other severe lung diseases like lung cancer.

Asbestosis also carries a higher risk of developing other serious conditions, these include:

  • Pleural disease – Which is a thickening of the lining that covers the lungs
  • Mesothelioma – This is cancer that affects the lining of some organs.
  • Lung cancer

So, it is always a good idea if you think you’ve been exposed to large quantities of asbestos dust, you should go see your local GP.

We hope you have taken away some valuable insight from this article and realised just how dangerous asbestos can be. Prevention is always better than a treatment so If you believe that you have asbestos inside your house, act quickly before any harm comes to you. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

Salman Zafar

Salman Zafar is the Founder of Cleantech Solutions, and an internationally-acclaimed blogger, journalist, consultant, advisor and ecopreneur. His areas of expertise includes waste management, renewable energy, waste-to-energy, environment protection, resource conservation and sustainable development.
Salman is a prolific environmental writer, and has authored more than 300 articles in reputed journals, magazines and websites. He is proactively engaged in creating mass awareness on renewable energy, waste management, sustainability and conservation all over the world.
Salman can be reached on salman@cleantechloops.com.

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