What is asbestos poisoning and are you at risk?

Asbestos Poisoning

The carcinogenic nature of asbestos, and the fact it was once a mainstay material used extensively in industry, means asbestos poisoning is still a threat to health even though the substance was banned in the UK in 1999.

Figures published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that in 2016, 2,595 people died from mesothelioma, an aggressive form of lung cancer attributed principally to asbestos exposure.¹

Although asbestos can be encased in an outer material, such as concrete, if that material degrades, asbestos poisoning may easily occur if the microscopic fibres are inhaled or ingested.

Asbestos poisoning and a considerable time-lag

A typical feature of asbestos exposure is the timescale involved before any symptoms are felt. A time lag of forty or fifty years is not uncommon, and in many cases asbestos workers only begin to experience the symptoms well into their retirement years.

This legacy of disease and ill health is predicted to slow at the end of this decade but the threat remains, and it isn’t only long-term exposure to asbestos that can poison the system. One-off, tragic events such as 9/11 or the Grenfell Tower fire can also lead to widespread asbestos poisoning among communities.

Grenfell Tower is reported to have contained large amounts of asbestos, with survivors of the fire potentially being exposed to considerable volumes of toxic fumes as they escaped. Fire fighters at the scene may also have been poisoned by asbestos as they dealt with the tragic events unfolding that night.

What are some of the symptoms of asbestos poisoning?

Chronic cough

When you inhale asbestos fibres and dust the lung tissue becomes scarred over a period of many years, often several decades. You may feel no ill effects for a long time but then develop a persistent dry cough that doesn’t go away with the ‘standard’ medicines and treatments.

Fatigue

Feeling extreme tiredness can be a sign of asbestos poisoning, particularly when accompanied by other symptoms such as wheezing, persistent coughing, and reduced lung function.

Shortness of breath

Often one of the initial symptoms felt by those suffering from asbestos poisoning, shortness of breath can be caused by scar tissue on the lungs, creating difficulty in breathing and causing the chest to feel heavy or restricted.

Wheezing

If you feel pain when you take a deep breath, or there is a ‘whistling’ or wheezing sound in your chest when you breathe in and out, it could be a sign of asbestos poisoning particularly if you’re not a smoker.

Clubbed fingertips

Clubbed or swollen fingertips, where the fingernails have become more curved than usual and the tips of the fingers abnormally large, has been associated with asbestosis and mesothelioma.²

If you would like to find out more about asbestos poisoning or any other aspect of dealing with asbestos whether in a commercial, industrial, or residential setting, please contact one of our highly experienced consultants. Acorn Asbestos offers a wide-range of asbestos services including asbestos surveys, asbestos testing, and asbestos removal.

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.

Need Help? Request a Call Back

Request a call back from one of our expert Asbestos Consultants who will help you identify what you need

More Asbestos Articles

emery 5282219 1920 e1620219017841

Asbestos forces homeowner to live in a hotel for almost a year

A couple of weeks ago we heard about an interesting case which clearly illustrates why we should all be on the look out for asbestos in our everyday lives. The case involved a garage door installation company Garage Doors (Northern) Ltd which was fined after it failed to manage asbestos safely during work on a …

Read More

Acorn Analytical Services Asbestos Solutions commecial photography 45

Asbestos stops work on major hospital project

At Acorn we’ve made it our mission to raise awareness about how widespread asbestos is throughout the UK. The reason for this is simple – every year thousands of people in our country die from preventable diseases caused by exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is estimated to be present in more than 1.5 million buildings in …

Read More

Acorn Analytical Services asbestos surveyors Joseph Bell Daniel Crask at the Frank Bruno Foundation Centre e1618310393601

Acorn helps boxing legend to launch new centre

We are very proud to reveal we have been involved in an exciting new project to help create a new centre backed by none other than boxing legend, Frank Bruno. The Frank Bruno Foundation exists to provide support and the encouragement to succeed to those facing and recovering from mental ill-health. Its volunteers have worked …

Read More

Asbestos artex testing 2

Asbestos Artex Testing – Textured Decorative Coatings

Why would you need asbestos Artex testing? First things first we need to explain that the word “Artex” is a trademark of Artex Ltd which is a company based in the UK. The word Artex is commonly used to describe a textured/decorative coating commonly used for interior decorating. Artex or textured coatings were frequently used …

Read More

Acorn Jan 2020 Low Res 135 e1617699112137

What does asbestos mean to me?

When we decided to launch the ‘What does asbestos mean to me?’ campaign, which runs alongside Global Asbestos Awareness Week this week (#2021GAAW), I was asked to answer the question and I couldn’t help but get reflective. I’ve never met anyone that dreams of going into the asbestos industry when they grow up and I was no different. In fact, …

Read More

Ian Stone and Neil Munro What does asbestos mean to me 2021GAAW scaled e1617701400805

Campaign shines a spotlight on dangers of asbestos

One of the UK’s most experienced teams of asbestos experts is championing a global campaign which launches today to raise awareness of the deadly substance. Leading asbestos consultancy Acorn Analytical Services is backing Global Asbestos Awareness Week – which runs from April 1 to April 7 – with the launch of its own campaign entitled …

Read More

hammer 719061 1920 e1616677177737

Companies fined for failing to manage asbestos safely

We recently heard about a case of a construction company and a property management company being fined thousands of pounds after they failed to manage asbestos safely during the refurbishment of a former office block in Stockport. Last month, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard Samer Constructions Limited had …

Read More

Collage e1608286815218

Mesothelioma – Hard to Say, Easy to Prevent

In recent months we have been privileged to support a dynamic new charity that is fighting to eradicate the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma. ActionMeso launched last year to bring together mesothelioma patients with carers, healthcare and legal professionals, asbestos removal firms and construction companies. Together they want to raise awareness across the UK about this devastating …

Read More

Acorn Jan 2020 Low Res 166 e1615384829809

Acorn launches free asbestos advice surgery

When we say we’re committed to eradicating people’s asbestos problems we mean it! Which is why we’re excited to launch our asbestos advice surgery! In our day-to-day work we provide businesses with innovative asbestos management services which reduce their risk of asbestos exposure, prosecution and fines. We know that for many people asbestos feels like …

Read More

Sian Stone Dan Crask 2

Acorn employees put best foot forward for charities

You may remember a few weeks ago that we ran a guest blog by our Commercial Manager Sian Stone on her marathon effort to raise funds to tackle the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma. Sian set herself the target of raising £200 by running at least 50 miles – or the length of nearly two marathons – …

Read More