Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous material that has been a popular building material since the 1950's. It is used as an insulator
(to keep in heat and keep out cold), has good fire protections properties and protects against corrosion.
As asbestos is often mixed with another material, it is hard to know if you are working with it or not. But, if you work in a building built before the year 2000, it is likely that some parts of the building will contain asbestos.
Asbestos is found in many products used in buildings, including ceiling tiles, pipe insulation, boilers, sprayed coatings, floor tiles and textured coatings etc.
What is the danger?
Asbestos is a hidden killer that can cause four serious diseases (described below). These diseases will not affect you immediately; they often take a long time to develop, but once diagnosed, it is often too late to do anything. There is a need for you to protect yourself now.
Mesothelioma is a cancer which affects the lining of the lungs (pleura) and the lining surrounding the lower digestive tract (peritoneum). It is almost exclusively related to asbestos exposure and by the time it is diagnosed, it is almost always fatal.
Asbestos-related Lung Cancer
Asbestos-related lung cancer is the same as (looks the same as) lung cancer caused by smoking and other causes. It is estimated that there is one lung cancer for every mesothelioma death.
Asbestosis is a serious scarring condition of the lung that normally occurs after heavy exposure to asbestos over many years. This condition can cause progressive shortness of breath, and in severe cases can be fatal.
Pleural thickening is generally a problem that happens after heavy asbestos exposure. The lining of the lung (pleura) thickens and swells. If this gets worse, the lung itself can be squeezed, and can cause shortness of breath and discomfort in the chest.
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