What are the health effects?

Significant exposure to asbestos will increase the risk of asbestosis or mesothelioma and nonmalignant lung and pleural disorders, including asbestosis, pleural plaques, pleural thickening, and pleural effusions.

Exposure

Because asbestos fibers are naturally occurring and extremely aerodynamic, virtually everyone has the potential to be exposed to asbestos. To be a significant health concern, asbestos fibers must be inhaled at high concentrations over an extended period of time. Asbestos fibers then accumulate in the lungs. As exposure increases, the risk of disease also increases. Therefore, measures to minimize exposure and consequently minimize accumulation of fibers will reduce the risk of adverse health effects.

 

Diseases

As asbestos fibers accumulate in the lungs, several types of diseases may occur. Asbestosis is a scarring of the lung tissue. This scarring impairs the elasticity of the lung and hampers its ability to exchange gases. This leads to inadequate oxygen intake to the blood. Asbestosis restricts breathing leading to decreased lung volume and increased resistance in the airways. It is a slowly progressive disease with a latency period of 15 to 30 years. 

 

Mesothelioma

Malignant mesothelioma is an uncommon, but no longer rare, cancer that is difficult to diagnose and poorly responsive to therapy. Malignant mesothelioma is the most serious of all asbestos related diseases. A layer of specialized cells called mesothelial cells lines the chest cavity, abdominal cavity, and the cavity around the heart. These cells also cover the outer surface of most internal organs. The tissue formed by these cells is called mesothelium. Mesothelioma is a cancer of the pleural lining. It is considered to be exclusively related to asbestos exposure. By the time it is diagnosed, it is almost always fatal. Similar to other asbestos related diseases, mesothelioma has a longer latency period of 30 to 40 years. 

Pleural Plaques

Pleural Plaques are spots of typically-calcified scar tissue that can be found on a person’s diaphragm or, in certain instances, on the ribcage. If you were frequently exposed to asbestos in your past, pleural plaques are the most likely asbestos-related issue to be diagnosed with. As with many asbestos-related health issues, most problems that result don’t typically appear until 20 years or more after initial exposure, making them difficult to diagnose.

Pleural Thickening

The pleura is the lining that coats your lungs, providing a layer of added protection. Certain lung diseases can increase the overall thickness of the pleura, which frequently is a direct result of some sort of trauma or irritation. Pleural Thickening, unlike pleural plaques, aren’t singularly caused by exposure to asbestos, however, many cases are directly linked. Asbestos is tiny material that cannot be caught by the lung’s natural filtration system due to its microscopic size -- they can come to rest in the body, causing inflammation, which can result in all kinds of health issues, including mesothelioma.

Pleural Plaques

Pleural Plaques are spots of typically-calcified scar tissue that can be found on a person’s diaphragm or, in certain instances, on the ribcage. If you were frequently exposed to asbestos in your past, Pleural Plaques are the most likely asbestos-related issue to be diagnosed with. As with many asbestos-related health issues, most problems that result don’t typically appear until 20 years or more after initial exposure, making them difficult to diagnose.

Pleural Effusions

Pleural Effusions are fluid that builds up in between the lungs and your chest cavity is known as a Pleural Effusion. Pleural Effusions can cause considerable discomfort for patients diagnosed with the issues, and can be a precursor for future problems. Unlike Pleural Plaques, Pleural Effusions don’t solely resort from long-term exposure to asbestos in the workplace or at home, however, asbestos is considered a leading cause of Pleural Effusions, along with congestive heart failure, adverse reactions to drugs and more

 

EMSL Analytical, Inc. suggests consulting with a Medical Professional if you suspect you have an Asbestos related health problem. 
It is important to receive the proper testing and guidance from a Medical Professional on Asbestos related illness.