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The Potential Lethality of Asbestos

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The Potential Lethality of Asbestos. Asbestos is a hazardous material that has a rich history in the UK. It was used regularly in buildings between the 1950s and the late 1990s. Asbestos that is well maintained, not disturbed or damaged is much less of a risk to health. The HSE (Health and Safety Executive) reports that asbestos still kills around 5,000 workers per year. This figure is higher than fatalities on our roads. The rates of death from past exposure are still significantly high, at around 20 deaths each week. There are many buildings built before the year 2,000 which may contain asbestos. Therefore it is vital to understand the potential lethality of asbestos and how to assess its risk.

Asbestos fibres are able to release into the air if areas that contain the material are damaged or disturbed. If inhaled, these fibres can cause significant damage and very serious illnesses that can be fatal. It is important to understand that fibres can attach themselves to items and be transported easily to those contacted. Although effects of exposure to asbestos can lead to death, the effects often take a long time to manifest and they develop slowly. This often means that diagnosis comes too late to allow for successful treatment.

The HSE (Health and Safety Executive) reports that asbestos still kills around 5,000 workers per year, which is higher than fatalities on the road.

Some of the more common illnesses caused by asbestos exposure include:

–      Mesothelioma. This condition is a cancer that attacks the pleura and has been found in those who have had low levels of exposure on multiple times. Mesothelioma is an incurable disease.

–      Asbestos-related lung cancer. This cancer presents itself in the same way as lung cancer, it grows and can spread in the same way.

–      Asbestosis. Mostly found in those who have been exposed to asbestos in great quantities or for longer periods, asbestosis is a serious scarring of the lungs. The scarring shrinks the lungs, making breathing more difficult.

–      Pleural thickening. This illness occurs predominantly in those who have suffered heavy exposure to asbestos. The pleura, the lining of the lungs, swell and thicken which can lead to breathing difficulties and chest pains.For anyone who thinks that they may have been exposed to asbestos previously, it is advisable to discuss concerns with a GP. This is particularly important for anyone who has been exposed and is experienced breathing difficulties, chest pains or coughing. Exposure may have come from previous jobs, living with others who have worked with asbestos or from living in properties that have asbestos is the building.

Asbestos is still present in several buildings and environments. Asbestos should be well maintained and not damaged to ensure the risk to health is minimal. For anyone who believes that their health may have been impaired from the exposure to asbestos, it is vital that health is assessed by a medical expert. Conditions that are diagnosed early are more readily and successfully treated. Furthermore, asbestos that is found to be damaged needs to be quickly dealt with by a professional company to eliminate additional risks. When working in environments, it is vital to understand the potential lethality of asbestos to preserve health and welfare.

If you would like to find out more about the dangers of asbestos, call us today on 01604 648928.

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Neil Munro

I work in a dual role at Acorn Analytical Services focused primarily on growing and leading the business from our Northampton office base. My focus is on overseeing all sales, marketing and financial activities from Northampton. I assist clients with high-level asbestos management strategies and training. Together with Ian Stone I host our weekly podcast – Asbestos Knowledge Empire and I'm Co-author of Asbestos The Dark Arts and Fear and Loathing of Health and Safety.

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