Until the early 1970s, asbestos was used in a wide range of materials and structures to enhance their strength and reduce flammability, despite some concerns about potential health issues. Unfortunately, the dangers were vastly underappreciated and not fully understood.
The biggest danger associated with asbestos is the possibility that its fibers can be inhaled. From this one danger, a multitude of extremely serious health problems can develop. When asbestos is left alone, it is relatively harmless. However, when it is disturbed, tiny fibers of the mineral break away from the general mass and can be inhaled easily by anyone in the room.
Once the fibers are inhaled, the body will try to expel them via coughing. While this gets rid of many of the particles, in some cases not all of them can be expelled. These residual fibers get trapped in the lungs, where they irritate the lung tissues and cause scarring. Because of something in the chemical makeup of asbestos, it has the ability to cause gene mutations resulting in tumors and eventually the cancer mesothelioma.
Other Conditions Associated With Asbestos
There are a number of other diseases, all incurable, associated with asbestos. Asbestosis is another of these dangerous conditions. This is a disease that results in gradual shortness of breath, most frequently seen when there has been exertion. It can result in respiratory failure or be something of a warning for mesothelioma.
Sadly, neither of these conditions is particularly treatable. For individuals with asbestosis, lung transplants may be an option. Mesothelioma, on the other hand, is frequently not detected or diagnosed until it is too late to fight the disease.
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