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What is Asbestos
Asbestos is often related to Mesothelioma probably because it is said to be the greatest single cause of work-related deaths in some countries such as the UK but it is not a disease in itself.
Asbestos is a highly fibrous mineral with separable, long, and thin fibers. It is a naturally occurring silicate minerals mined for their useful properties such as thermal insulation, chemical and thermal stability, and high tensile strength.
Asbestos fibers are widely used in many industrial purposes due to its durability and heat resistant properties – meaning it can’t easily be burned. Its fibers are often mixed with cement or woven into fabric or mats.
The fibers are also used in brake shoes and gaskets for its heat resistance. It has been also used on electric oven and hotplate wiring for its electrical insulation at elevated temperature. It’s also used in buildings for its flame-retardant and insulating properties, tensile strength, flexibility, and resistance to chemicals.
In and of itself, the mineral is not harmful, as long as it’s intact. It is when the asbestos-based products are damaged and the fibers become airborne that gives a serious concern. Also those people working in the manufacturing of the asbestos-based products are in the risk because of constant exposure.
Prolonged exposure to any type of asbestos will lead into the risk of developing into diseases such as lung cancer, mesothelioma and nonmalignant lung and pleural disorders, including asbestosis, pleural plaques, pleural thickening, and pleural effusions.
When asbestos fibers are inhaled, most fibers are expelled, but some can become lodged in the lungs and remain there throughout life. Fibers can accumulate and cause scarring and inflammation. Enough scarring and inflammation can affect breathing, leading to disease.
Diseases from asbestos exposure are not immediately noticeable because it takes a long time to develop. As observed in most cases of lung cancer or asbestosis caused by asbestos, signs and symptoms can only be evident within 15 or more years after the initial exposure.