Monday, October 14, 2013

Asbestos in the Environment and the Dangers of Exposure

Asbestos in the Environment and the Dangers of Exposure

This week, we have a guest post from Mark Hall.  Mark spreads awareness about mesothelioma and asbestos by researching and writing for The Mesothelioma Center.

The presence of asbestos in the environment endangers the health of any person who may reside, work or spend time in that area if it is disturbed. Asbestos forms naturally as a mineral that can be found in various geographic areas across the country.

Asbestos Found in the Environment

natural asbestos fiber Dozens of eastern, central and Rocky Mountain states are known to have naturally-occurring asbestos. For example, in the central United States 26 natural asbestos occurrences are described through U.S. Geological Survey reports, while eastern states account for nearly 331 natural occurrences.

Of California's 58 counties, 48 of them also have this form of asbestos.   

As the mineral is found in rock-like formation, improper disturbance or natural weathering can cause fibers to be released, leading to dangerous health effects for humans. Common methods of human disruption of naturally-occurring asbestos are through mining or construction activity.
Asbestos is categorized under six different types, including:
  • Amosite asbestos
  • Crocidolite asbestos
  • Tremolite asbestos
  • Anthophyllite asbestos
  • Actinolite asbestos
Health Hazards of Asbestos
The dangers associated with asbestos exposure include the development of one or more respiratory diseases and cancers. Lung cancer is the most notable cancer caused by asbestos, with the mineral accounting for the cause of nearly four percent of all lung cancer cases. Mesothelioma and asbestosis are other diseases closely tied to this form of exposure.

These health effects result when asbestos fibers are inhaled and become lodged within the lining of the lungs or other organs.

Asbestos-related cancers and diseases often take decades from the time of initial exposure for the symptoms to fully manifest and develop.

For example, mesothelioma is known to become evident between 30 to 50 years after someone has been exposed to asbestos. This extended latency period contributes too many of the late diagnoses that are associated with asbestos diseases.

Exposure to asbestos is something that should not be taken lightly. It is recommended to anyone who is exposed to asbestos in the environment that they seek medical attention and get screening for respiratory concerns. Regular screenings will detect the possible development of diseases like lung cancer and mesothelioma earlier while also providing your doctor additional treatment options.

For more information about asbestos and its environmental impact, we encourage you to visit the asbestos website!
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