When inhaled, asbestos fibers make their way into the lungs causing physical damage and become lodged in the surrounding tissue, both of which can form cancer. The risk rises with two major factors: time and amount of exposure. In this blog, we’re looking at where the risks are, who is most at risk, and measures to take if you think you’ve been exposed.
Asbestos Exposure’s Two Factors: Time and Amount
The health concerns from asbestos act on a longer scale than many harmful materials. Both the time from initial exposure to symptoms, as well as how long asbestos must build up in the lungs to critical levels, are on a span of years instead of days or months. The time itself and the amount inhaled are the largest contributors.
The Timeline for Asbestos Exposure
The period from initial exposure to symptoms varies on the severity of the health concern. Asbestos exposure starts with inflammation of the throat and mouth and coughing. First damage is done to the lungs in the form of scarring from the sharp fibers, known as asbestosis. From there the initial stages of lung cancer and mesothelioma vary anywhere 10 and 80 years.
How the Amount of Asbestos Contributes
The other major factor, and the one that causes the fastest onset of serious symptoms is the amount of exposure to asbestos fibers. The first links between asbestos and severe health conditions were the workers in asbestos mines, factories which processed asbestos, and contractors who used asbestos-containing materials. The higher the amount, the more pronounced and faster the symptoms appear.
People Most at Risk from Asbestos Exposure
There are several groups of people who are more at risk due to health conditions or rate of exposure.
- Smokers: Tobacco smoke does the same damage as asbestos fibers and if exposed to both the chances of cancer can rise up to 50%.
- Children and the Elderly: Smaller lungs and health/immune system issues mean both the very young and old are more at risk from asbestos exposure.
- Construction Contractors: Due to the possibility for exposure in renovations and demolitions, contractors need to take extra measures to avoid asbestos.
When it comes down to it, there is no safe amount of asbestos exposure. If you think you’ve been exposed, you can consult with your doctor, though there are no easy medical procedures. Instead, you need to get the property inspected for asbestos. Fiber Control, Inc. specializes in procedures for dealing with asbestos and other hazardous materials. If you’re in Massachusetts or New Hampshire and need asbestos inspection and abatement, we can help. Contact us today.