If you’re under the impression that the title of this week’s blog is one of our more morbid choices, you’d be right. Make no mistake about it, asbestos is a killer. The toxic substance, which Canada finally outlawed just before the new year, is the nation’s number one workplace killer and the cause of thousands of deaths annually. The importance of protecting yourself from the dangers of asbestos cannot be understated.
Formerly used as insulation in the construction of homes and buildings – among many other uses – asbestos is practically harmless when left undisturbed. However, when its fibres become airborne – a common occurrence during renovations of older facilities – they can become trapped in the lungs, leading to such deadly diseases as mesothelioma, asbestosis and many cancers.
According to Asbestos.com, asbestos is responsible for between 70 and 80 percent of all mesothelioma cases. It is a “signature” asbestos-related cancer and one of the most deadly diseases caused by the toxic substance.
“The cancer is named after the mesothelium, the thin protective lining where the tumors develop,” the website explains, “It can appear on the lining of the lungs, stomach, heart or testicles…Each type of mesothelioma is associated with a unique set of symptoms, but chest or abdominal pain and shortness of breath affect most patients, regardless of their specific diagnosis.”
Asbestosis is an incurable lung disease that is generally caused by years of occupational asbestos exposure. As you can imagine, it makes breathing very difficult. The disease has been found to be especially prevalent in individuals who work on construction sites, on ships and at industrial facilities where asbestos-containing materials are commonly found.
“Asbestosis is a type of pulmonary fibrosis, a condition in which the lung tissue becomes scarred over time,” explains Asbestos.com, “It is not a type of cancer, but asbestosis has the same cause as mesothelioma and other asbestos-related… Because this disease is similar to other types of pulmonary fibrosis, diagnosing asbestosis requires thorough medical and occupational histories in addition to medical testing.”
Not surprisingly, asbestos is a known cause for many different cancers including lung cancer, ovarian cancer and laryngeal cancer. Smokers who are exposed to asbestos are especially at risk of developing lung cancer. As Asbestos.com informs us, just ten years ago, it was confirmed that there is a link between asbestos-exposed women and ovarian cancer.
“Another asbestos-related malignant disease is laryngeal cancer,” says the site, “There is a proven link between the fibers and the disease. Other risk factors, such as smoking or drinking, are more likely to cause the cancer. The risk increases with the length and intensity of a person’s exposure.”
Asbestos.com goes on to note that esophageal cancer, gallbladder cancer, kidney cancer and throat cancer are also loosely associated with asbestos although studies have reported various degrees of success linking these cancers to asbestos exposure. “Until research indicates otherwise, asbestos may be able to increase a person’s risk for these cancers, but it is not a proven risk factor,” the website states.
At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we take asbestos exposure very seriously. For information about our Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM) Services, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.