HomeHealth & FitnessWhat is asbestos and what kind of diseases can it cause?

What is asbestos and what kind of diseases can it cause?


Asbestos is one of the components of fiber cement, a building material. It is composed of microscopic fibers that remain in the air long enough to pose a serious respiratory risk.

This material has been used in a wide variety of manufactured products and was very profitable for companies due to its properties (insulation and resistance to heat and flames) and its low cost.

The simple fact of being in contact with the asbestos does not suppose almost risk for the health but the situation changes when the contact is prolonged in the time and the material is manipulated, so the fibers float in the air and are easily breathable. This happens in demolitions, jobs such as cutting, drilling, breaking or when the material is very old. In this way, the fibers can adhere to the clothes and the risk of passing to the air breathed increases.

Where is it located?

In its most dangerous form, this material is present in roofing tiles and concrete products, but it is also used for its flame retardant properties in automotive tools such as clutch, brakes or transmission components. In addition, it was used for fireproof suits for pilots or firemen.

Asbestos can also be found in railway materials, shipbuilding objects, ship repair and scrapping … as well as in the steel industry or in the electricity sector (thermal and nuclear power plants).

What kind of diseases can cause?

The diseases that can cause are those of the respiratory system.

Lung cancer is the deadliest of the diseases that affect people exposed to asbestos. Asbestos is considered a cocarcinogen, that is, an external physical, chemical or biological agent capable of producing cancer, such as tobacco.

Another disease is malignant mesothelioma, another type of cancer but, in this case, affects the pleura and peritoneum. It usually occurs in people who have been exposed to asbestos for work reasons, although symptoms may not appear until 20 or 30 years after exposure. Its consequences are very serious since there is no cure for this disease and, in addition, the average life expectancy once the disease is detected is nine months, which is why many mesothelioma claims are initiated every year.

Asbestosis is a disease directly associated with exposure to asbestos. It consists of the development of a pulmonary fibrosis after the inhalation of asbestos. As malignant mesothelioma develops over the years and the symptoms are respiratory distress that is aggravated as the disease progresses, dry cough and feeling of tightness in the chest.

Is it permissible to sell asbestos?

The commercialization and use of asbestos in construction is prohibited. However, there is still asbestos in buildings prior to the prohibition, which is why it is recommended that workers engaged in professions related to demolitions and maintenance should always wear Personal Protective Equipment. Anyway, there are companies specializing in the removal of asbestos that ensure a professional cleaning, safe and free of traces of contamination.


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