Asbestos insulation became highly popular in the manufacturing and construction businesses in the late 19th century because of the heat-resistant properties it possesses. While it is still widely used in various countries around the world, some areas, including the European Union, have banned its use completely. The declining trend in the use of asbestos insulation can be largely attributed to the hazardous health risks it can cause if its fibers become part of the air someone breathes in.
Some of the common dangers associated with asbestos insulation are:
1. Risk of Developing Cancer
The inhalation of asbestos fibers present in the air can lead to various illnesses including lung cancer, mesothelioma (a cancer that is associated with continuous exposure to asbestos), and asbestosis, which is a type of pneumoconiosis. The people who are at the highest risk of prolonged exposure and disease are asbestos insulation processing plant employees or workers whose job is to handle and install asbestos insulation.
2. Risk of Developing Asbestos Warts
Due to increased and prolonged exposure to asbestos fibers present in the asbestos insulation, the skin may get irritated or damaged. Warts can form. They can be recognized as hard, callus-like growths. Asbestos fibers are microscopic in size and tend be needle-like and sharp, making it easy for them to penetrate the skin. Fortunately, asbestos warts are known to be non-cancerous and do not cause serious illnesses making them relatively harmless. In some cases, they just act as a sign of asbestos exposure.
3. Risk of Developing Pleural Plaques
Pleural plaques are localized scars or thickened areas of the skin that develop in response to an exposure to asbestos fibers present in the air. If the asbestos insulation present in someone’s house is damaged, resulting in an increased exposure, one may find an accumulation of pleural plaques on the inside of the diaphragm or very rarely, near the ribcage. However, pleural plaques may not appear on the human body till twenty years of exposure to asbestos fibers and are only detectable through the use of an X-ray.
4. Risk of Developing Asbestosis
Asbestosis is a medical condition associated with a chronic inflammation of the lungs. It usually occurs after a long-term or high-intensity exposure to asbestos fibers present in the air. Similar to pleural plaques, asbestosis does not develop in a person before twenty years of exposure to asbestos fibers. However, when it does happen, it considerably lowers lung volume which may prove to have life-threatening consequences to an individual. In rare cases, it may also lead to heart failure.