Asbestos: The Silent Killer

Asbestos kills 12,000-15,000 people per year in the U.S.

Three major diseases are caused by inhalation of airborne asbestos fibers:

  • Mesothelioma is a rare and always fatal cancer that strikes the mesothelium, a thin membrane lining the lungs, heart, chest cavity, gastrointestinal system and reproductive organs. Mesothelioma is primarily caused by exposure to asbestos (ACS 2015). For the purpose of this analysis all mesothelioma victims are presumed to have been exposed to asbestos at some point in their lives.
  • Asbestosis is caused by inhaled asbestos fibers that lodge deep in the lungs, scarring the organs or triggering the growth of excess tissue, a condition known as fibrosis. Asbestosis makes breathing excruciatingly painful and often leads to death from lung or heart failure; the victim essentially suffocates. There is no known cure. Because its symptoms are similar to other respiratory diseases, asbestosis may not always be recorded as the cause of death.
  • Lung cancer can be caused by inhalation of asbestos fibers. Estimating the number of lung cancer deaths attributable to asbestos exposure is difficult, since death certificates citing the cause of death as lung cancer do not indicate if the person had any exposure to asbestos. However, we estimate that many more people die of asbestos-related lung cancer than from mesothelioma or asbestosis.

Most people don’t encounter asbestos simply by walking around their home even if there is asbestos inside. Asbestos exposure usually occurs during home renovation projects because do-it-yourself projects can catch non-professionals off guard.Asbestos that is already damaged or may be crumbling because of age is referred to as “friable” asbestos. This kind of asbestos is especially dangerous because the toxic fibers that make up asbestos can easily circulate through the air become inhaled. Anyone performing any type of serious renovation work on a home built prior to 1980 should always wear protective gear.

The most important thing to remember when working in a home, school, factory or office built before 1999 is that, if you suspect asbestos, stop work straight away and call a qualified company to remove it.  Asbestos is extremely dangerous so make sure that you call in the experts as soon as possible to prevent serious injury.


Speak Your Mind