Occupational Asbestos Exposure… Is asbestos dangerous?
Asbestos is natural material occur in the environment as bundles of tiny fibers. These fibers are harmless if left intact and undisturbed. In this condition asbestos containing materials do not pose a health risk. But if these micro fibers are disturbed and inhaled or ingested, people are affected by asbestos and become harmful as these fibers can have long term effects to your health.
What does asbestos do to you?
Asbestos is that miracle material that was used for its properties of resistance to fire or heat, in different industries for decays. Asbestos is not a thing of the past. It’s still used commercially; the fibers are often mixed with cement or woven into fabric or mats in many manufacturing processes and building components. The prolonged inhalation of asbestos fibers in workplace, communities, or homes can cause serious illnesses. There have been many cases of malignant lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis coming down 20 and 30 years after being exposed to asbestos.
Is asbestos a carcinogen?
All forms of Asbestos have been designated as a known human carcinogen (or cancer-causing substance) to humans by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the EPA.
Exposure to asbestos causes cancer to certain lining of certain organs; the lung, larynx and ovaries, and also mesothelioma (a cancer of the pleural and peritoneal linings).
The implications of asbestos exposure are not visible after immediate exposure. Aside from causing cancer lung disease asbestos fibers affects over time the lining of the lungs when inhaled, they can become lodged in, causing inflammation and Irritation leading to scarring (fibrosis) in the lungs leading to major health problem.
The following trades or job occupations are of Top High-Risk of developing mesothelioma; it is likely that you were exposed to asbestos throughout the duration of your career.
Top occupations, products, job sites and locations that include asbestos are at a high risk of Asbestos exposure include:
• Manufacturing and maintenance are at risk due to asbestos in the friction products, like clutch and brake linings
• Carpenters their work range from making furniture to participating in large scale construction projects. An inexpensive insulation material contains some form of asbestos which is commonly used in construction.
• Construction workers can be at risk, 17% of construction injuries are due to exposure to toxic asbestos materials.
• Shipyard workers are at risk due to the asbestos in insulating pipes and for use in gaskets and sealing compounds to bond gaskets and valves and other sources.
• Miners although better prepared to occupational work diseases than homeowners who are unknowingly breathing in asbestos but still are at the greatest risk from asbestos.
• Millers can come into contact with Asbestos from the machines and equipment that they work on
leading to extended asbestos exposure.
• Navy veterans all branches of the military from can also be at risk for asbestos exposure because the equipment that they work on with contains asbestos fibers.
• Tile contractors are at risk due to the dust from many of the materials tile setters work with.
• Oil refinery workers are very complex facilities; rail yard and power plant workers can be at risk from various sources. Unfortunately, these trades are the ones most at risk for job exposure and inhalation of asbestos-containing materials.
Here is a list of few more people who are at risk;
• Aeronautical Engineers
• Aircraft Mechanic
• Auto Mechanics
• Building inspectors
• Brick and Stone Masons
• Bulldozer Operators
• Cabinet makers
• Floor covering workers
• Furnace workers
• Chemical Technicians
• Civil Engineers
• Crane Operators
• Demolition workers
• Drill Press Operators
• Electric Power Linemen
• Electrical Engineers
• Forge Men
• Freight and Material Handlers
• Furnace/Smelter Operators
• Garage Mechanics
• Heavy Equipment Mechanics
• Hod carriers
• Home Inspectors
• Household Appliance Installers
• HVAC Workers
• Industrial Engineers
• Industrial Plant Workers
• Iron Workers
• Libby vermiculite exfoliation plant workers
• Mechanical Engineers
• Merchant Marines
• Metal Lathers
• Mixing Operators
• Operating Engineers
• Power Plant Workers
• Railroad Workers
• Refinery workers
• Road Machine Operators
• Sailors and Deckhands
• Sales Engineer
• Sheet Metal Workers
• Stationary Engineers
• Structural Metal Craftsmen
• Telephone Repairmen
• Textile Operator
• Tool makers
if you worked in one of the above trades or job occupations, it doesn’t take a lot of exposure to affect your life years down the road. Additionally, you may also be putting your family at risk; you may have experienced second-hand exposure to asbestos. There have been cases reported of Mesothelioma to family members where there is a family member working in one of the above mentioned occupations even though they were nowhere near the job sites. Secondary exposure has been reported with evidence of developing mesothelioma (asbestos cancer). A study of 878 household contacts of asbestos workers revealed that 4 out of 115 total deaths. Family members were affected by the Asbestos fibers that came in on the worker’s clothing, hair and/or shoes.
Because both of these groups mentioned are at a higher risk routine screenings is a must besides taking every precaution to be protected.