The majority of people know asbestos is a very dangerous substance, but many do not understand what it
is or why the mineral is bad for the body. Understanding asbestos is important because the illnesses associated with the substance
can cause serious medical problems and even death. Knowledge truly is power and it is crucial to know what asbestos is and
how to take precautions to avoid it.
The following passages are information provided by The Mesothelioma
centre in the USA. Although the site is predominantly directed towards asbestos issues in the USA, you will find that the
majority of the content is also relevant to the United Kingdom and makes interesting reading.
This link takes
you direcly to their site should you require more in-depth information.
The light, fine, and virtually indestructible fibers wreck
havoc on the human body. Free asbestos fibers in the air are easily inhaled into the the lungs, and are quite difficult to
expel. The lungs try to repair the tiny irritations, which can result in scarring. Scarred lung tissue cannot readily absorb
oxygen from the air or easily pass back carbon dioxide. As a result of this process, asbestosis can develop, and may even
turn into cancer. Asbestos exposure can also cause cancer, such as mesothelioma and lung cancer, and has been linked to gastrointestinal and colon cancer, as well as a slew of other cancers.
Mesothelioma statistics say individuals who do not directly work with asbestos can develop mesothelioma through secondary exposure.
Mesothelioma most commonly affects of the lining of the lungs, known as pleural mesothelioma. This mesothelioma disease can also affect the abdominal cavity (peritoneal), the lining of the heart (pericardial), and in very rare
cases, the testes.
Why Worry About Asbestos?
Some of the highest incidences of mesothelioma have not been from adults who worked
with asbestos, but among their children. Children are more susceptible to its effects than adults and were often exposed to
asbestos since it was carried home on parents' work clothes. This is why there is so much concern about asbestos-containing
materials (ACM) in school buildings. Many institutions of higher learning have published surveys of ACM in their buildings,
which include plans to manage and prevent further exposure, plans to remove it, and programs to educate local populations
about the dangers of disturbing ACM. Some universities even maintain their own accredited asbestos testing labs and abatement
crews. If you are at risk for these illnesses because high levels of asbestos exposure, have regular medical checkups.
Use in the United KingdomFor much of the twentieth century, countries around the world made
rampant use of asbestos because it was touted as an excellent insulator, offering superior fire- and heat-resistant properties.
The naturally occurring mineral was also known for its durability and low price. In the United Kingdom, asbestos was used
in literally thousands of products from the time of the Industrial Revolution to nearly the end of the 1900s. In the United Kingdom, an "official" policy on the use of asbestos has been in place since the mid-1980s.
A ban on blue and brown asbestos was issued in 1985 and on white asbestos in 1999. Current regulations also ban "the
second-hand use of asbestos products such as asbestos cement sheets and asbestos boards and tiles; including panels which
have been covered with paint or textured plaster containing asbestos." As is the case in most countries, the ban applies
to new uses of asbestos. Any existing asbestos materials in good condition may be left in place and should be monitored, the
laws state.Because of the longterm use of the hazardous mineral, the United Kingdom has seen a marked
increase in cases of the asbestos-caused cancer mesothelioma in the past 20 years. For example, the country's Health and
Safety Executive reports that only 153 cases of the disease were diagnosed in 1968. In 2006, the last year for which statistics
are currently available, 2,056 individuals died of mesothelioma. Projections say cases of the disease in the UK will peak
around 2015, with approximately 2,500 annual deaths from mesothelioma occurring around that time.Like
the United States, many cases of mesothelioma resulted from work in the United Kingdom's many shipyards, especially during
the busy war years. But other occupations were at risk as well. Below is a partial list of the industries in the United Kingdom
that have the highest number of mesothelioma cases.
use of asbestos in products decreased, exposure rates decreased as well. But because asbestos continued to be used into the
1980s and 1990s, many who were exposed during that time period may not have yet developed mesothelioma, which has a long latency
period of about 20-50 years, or another asbestos-related disease.
- Navy Seamen
- Other Civilian Shipyard Employees
- Heating and
Air Conditioning Workers
- Pipefitters and Plumbers
- Laggers and Sprayers
- Construction and Demolition Workers
- Chemical Plant Employees
- Asbestos Manufacturers
As the twenty-first century progresses,
experts fear more and more individuals will be diagnosed with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases as well, prompting
the need for more and better research concerning the diagnosis and treatment of the disease among individuals residing in
the United Kingdom.