Everything You Need to Know About Asbestos

Asbestos was widely used in the construction industry for many years. And while you may not be aware of it, asbestos still exists in many homes and buildings. Asbestos is a highly dangerous material and prologues exposure can cause serious health problems. In order to protect yourself from asbestos, there are some important things you should know about this material.

Asbestos Products Are Everywhere

In 2004 a ban on all asbestos was introduced in Ireland. However, between 1960 and 1980 it was a very popular material. Asbestos makes products heat resistant and was sued as an acoustic insulator, thermal insulator and in fireproofing and building materials. Today, ceiling tiles, vinyl flooring, chalkboards, fire blankets, roofing shingles, plaster, adhesives, elevator equipment, toilet seats and much more still contain asbestos.

Asbestos Fibres

Asbestos only becomes dangerous once it is disturbed and the fibres become airborne. If an asbestos containing product is disturbed or damaged the asbestos will release these fibres into the air. Airborne fibres can become trapped in the mucous membrane of the nose and throat where they can be removed. Any fibres that are inhaled are ingested can cause serious health issues such as asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.

Asbestos Fibres Remain in the Human Body

When asbestos fibres enter the body they cannot be removed. Asbestos fibres are microscopic and can slip through the lung’ filtration system and penetrate outward through the membrane which covers the lungs and lines the chest cavity. Similarly, fibres which have been swallowed will penetrate the stomach. Unfortunately, due to their sharp, needle-like nature, nothing can remove the fibres.

Symptoms of Asbestos Exposure

The longer you are exposed to asbestos the greater the health risks. However, it can take years for any symptoms to show up. Asbestos is a carcinogen and may lead to a number of diseases in those who have inhaled or ingested fibres. A previously mentioned the main illnesses associated with asbestos exposure are asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. These diseases may take up to 40 or 50 years to develop within the body and many are unaware of their condition until it is too late.

Asbestos is Still Legal

While Asbestos is banned in Ireland there are many places around the world where asbestos mining and asbestos products are still legal. Asbestos is a low-cost substance and is still popular in the construction industry in developing countries. Despite the known health risks, asbestos is still used widely in Greece, Italy, Canada, Russia, America, China and India. 

For more information on asbestos and the associated risks visit our “What is Asbestos” page.


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