For years, the flexibility and durability of asbestos made it a staple in building materials, flame-retardant fabrics, and even car brakes. But due to the dangers of asbestos exposure, the EPA banned its use in commercial materials in 1978. When asbestos fibers are damaged or deteriorate, they separate into minuscule, easily inhaled particles that can inflame and scar lung tissue. Asbestos exposure can lead to life-threatening health problems such as asbestosis, mesothelioma, and lung cancer.
Are you at risk for one of these diseases caused by asbestos exposure? Symptoms of asbestos exposure may take years, or even decades, to become evident. If you’ve experienced these symptoms, especially if you’ve lived or worked in a building built before 1978, reach out to your doctor immediately.
3 Symptoms of Asbestos Exposure
- Difficulty breathing. Asbestos poisoning primarily affects the lungs. Symptoms of inflammation or scar tissue buildup include shortness of breath, wheezing, chest pain, and persistent dry coughing.
- Swollen fingertips. One of the most easily diagnosable signs of asbestos disease, swollen fingertips (also known as “clubbing”), appear in roughly 50% of all cases of asbestos exposure.
- Fatigue and loss of appetite. Although these symptoms can be caused by a variety of health issues, when combined with other symptoms of asbestos exposure, they can indicate the development of an asbestos-related disease.
Diseases Caused by Asbestos Exposure
- Asbestosis. A chronic lung disease caused by lung scarring, symptoms may take 10-40 years to appear. People with asbestosis are at increased risk for developing lung cancer, especially if they have a history of smoking.
- Mesothelioma. When inhaled, asbestos fibers may lodge in the protective lining of the lungs, heart, or abdomen. The resulting irritation can lead to mutations of the mesothelial cells, causing cancerous tumors to grow. Symptoms of mesothelioma may take 20-50 years to show and are often mistaken for signs of pneumonia or other less serious illnesses.
- Lung cancer. Asbestos-related lung cancer kills an estimated 6,000 Americans annually. It’s caused by genetic and cellular mutations due to asbestos exposure and may take 15-35 years to develop. Once formed, it spreads quickly, so early detection is imperative.
Firefighters, electricians, shipyard workers, and others who frequently work with materials that may contain asbestos are at the highest risk for contracting an asbestos-related disease. Ensure your commercial work sites are safe. Contact Clean Environmental Group for professional asbestos remediation for commercial properties in Atlanta.