Are You At Risk for this Chronic Lung Disease?
Asbestosis is chronic and incurable lung disease caused by inhaling asbestos particles, which get trapped inside the lungs. It is characterised by coughing and shortness of breath.
Asbestosis usually occurs in people who have been exposed to large volumes of asbestos over a long time. The at-risk occupations include, but are not limited to:
• Boiler workers
• Freight movers
• Masons (bricklayers)
• Power station workers
• Railway workers
• Shipyard workers
Source: Safe Work Australia
Also, many families are at risk by coming in contact with the workers’ asbestos-contaminated clothing. It is possible for these workers and some of their family members to develop, and die from, asbestos-related lung diseases.
Asbestos: A Versatile and Dangerous Mineral
Asbestos was, in the past, used for many purposes and in a variety of industries. It is a natural flame-retardant and fire-proof mineral, which was widely used for industrial and residential applications for over one hundred years.
There are six known types of asbestos minerals with different physical properties. Depending on the application, the mineral can be woven into fabric to produce fire-proof clothing or compressed into building materials and insulation. Asbestos was inexpensive and effective, and it was therefore used widely for countless applications and products.
However, this highly versatile material comes with a major health risk. Many people developed asbestosis, a lung disease resulting from inhaling asbestos particles. Asbestos-related lung cancer and mesothelioma are also caused by inhaling asbestos particles.
The irony of asbestos is that the chemical and physical properties of the mineral that allow it be an extremely protective material, also cause it to be an extremely dangerous health risk.
Asbestosis is a very slow developing chronic lung disease. Asbestos workers and their families can develop the illness decades after exposure – it can take up to 20-30 years for symptoms to reveal themselves.
Asbestos particles can be extremely small, which contributes to increased health risks. The small particles can easily become airborne during manufacturing, installation, and removal processes.
The very small and very sharp asbestos shards may be inhaled, enter the lungs and become embedded in the tissue. Some of the shards may enter the alveoli, which are small air sacs in the lungs. The inhaled oxygen and exhaled carbon dioxide exchange places in the alveoli – oxygen in, carbon dioxide out.
If the alveoli become blocked or damaged by the asbestos particles, the oxygen and carbon dioxide gas exchange cannot occur properly or at all. As a result, breathing difficulties will occur.
The asbestos particles irritate the lungs and can cause scar tissue to form. As more scar tissue is formed, the lungs become fibrous and loose elasticity, which means they become hard and tight. The lungs cannot fully expand and contract, which causes breathing difficulties.
According to the world-renowned Mayo Clinic in the United States, this chronic lung disease is characterised by:
• Shortness of breath while under exertion or resting;
• Persistent dry coughing and intermittent (occurring occasionally to often) chest pain;
• Finger deformity (clubbing) from lack of oxygen delivered to the finger tips.
The Mayo Clinic recommends that you seek immediate medical advice from a health professional if you are experiencing any of these symptoms to determine the cause and nature of your illness.
Tobacco smokers exposed to asbestos have a much greater risk of developing asbestosis than non-smokers.
Not everyone who is exposed to asbestos develops lung disease. But, that does not mean asbestos exposure has some degree of safety. Asbestos exposure must always be considered a serious and potentially fatal health risk.
Asbestos Removal from Your Home and Business
Asbestos was a common building material used in constructing many businesses and residences in Australia, often used for insulation and roofing materials. It is especially problematic and dangerous when the building materials are damaged and flake into small shards. The particles can become airborne and inhaled.
It is very important that the damaged materials are removed, by licensed professionals, as soon as possible, to minimise health risks.
Murphy’s licensed Asbestos removal specialists are well-trained and equipped to perform the operation safely to minimise asbestos inhalation risks. Business and homeowners should never attempt to remove asbestos materials by themselves.
Our asbestos removal professionals can test your building and property to determine the amount of asbestos present and to conduct a risk assessment.
Our team of asbestos removal professionals will provide you with an action plan and removal costs. The charges vary with that amount of asbestos present and the degree of difficulty involved in removing the material.
Your primary concern should always be the health and safety of your family and employees – the safety benefits outweigh any asbestos removal costs associated with engaging a licensed professional.
Asbestos removal in NSW is an Australian government public health and safety issue. The NSW government website contains information for homeowners about how and when to conduct asbestos removal. Business and home owners should always seek the advice of a licensed asbestos removal professional. It highly recommended that the removal is conducted by trained and highly-skilled professionals for everyone’s health and safety.
Here at Murphy’s Group Services, we specialize in the SAFE removal of Asbestos. Our highly trained team of professionals take the utmost care to ensure that all Asbestos removal is done with the exacting standards of the Australian government.
Asbestosis is a painful and permanent lung disease. It is imperative that you seek help from our licensed asbestos removal professionals to remediate your business and home to reduce the chances of your family or employees developing asbestosis, lung cancer, or mesothelioma.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. Anyone who has health-related concerns and questions about asbestosis or other health conditions should seek advice from a fully licensed health or medical professional as soon as possible.
“Asbestosis. Causes”. Mayo Clinic.
“Asbestos-related Disease Indicators”. Safe Work Australia. Commonwealth of Australia. August 2010.
“Asbestosis. Symptoms”. Mayo Clinic.
“Fibro and Asbestos – FAQ”. NSW Government.
Lavelle, Peter. “Asbestos”. Australian Broadcasting Corporation.