Health Risks of Asbestos
Asbestos is hazardous when inhaled. When Asbestos Containing Materials deteriorate or are damaged, Asbestos fibres are released into the air. All of the identified forms of asbestos are recognized as human carcinogens. Fibres that are inhaled can lodge and remain in the lungs, or migrate to other locations in the body.
Especially at risk are:
- Occupationally exposed workers (mainly in the construction industry)
- Children, who will retain any inhaled fibres for decades, and
- Occupationally exposed smokers, who experience a greatly enhanced risk of lung cancer.
Breathing in Asbestos fibres has been linked to three respiratory diseases, all of which can be fatal:
- Asbestosis is a chronic lung disease that can lead to respiratory impairment and to diseases such as lung cancer.
- Mesothelioma is a cancer in two forms-pleural which is a tumour of the lung; and peritoneal, which is a cancer of the abdominal cavity.
- Lung cancer caused by Asbestos cannot be distinguished from those cancers that are caused by other agents such as tobacco smoke.