Unfortunately, there have been recent reports that show an increase in asbestos-related diseases, even though asbestos is not being used like it used to. The question then becomes, why are there more cases of asbestos-related illnesses and other lung diseases even though asbestos is not being used industrially anymore?
Asbestos was once thought of as a “miracle mineral,” and numerous industries throughout the world used this material because it was incredibly resistant to heat, was a great material for insulating and it was cost-effective. Asbestos was used up until the 1970s, because that was when the harmful effects of asbestos became known.
The problem with asbestos comes from when the material is disturbed. When disturbed, tiny invisible fibers are let out into the air that can then be inhaled. Once these asbestos fibers are inside the body, they can cause thickening, calcium deposits or an accumulation of fluid in the tissue around the lungs or scarring of the lungs. There are also instances in which the fibers can cause lung cancer or cancer of the mesothelial tissue, called mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is an incredibly serious disease that encases the lungs and makes it increasingly difficult to breath. There is no cure for mesothelioma and even if patients are given the best treatments, over half of them will die within one year of being diagnosed.
The reason that there is an increase in asbestos-related diseases is that the latency period for mesothelioma is very long and it can take anywhere from 20 to 50 years for symptoms to develop. That means that people who are being diagnosed now, may have been exposed back in the 1970s or 1980s.
Many of the people who are diagnosed with mesothelioma do not even remember a time when they were exposed to asbestos, since it was most likely many years ago. Even though asbestos is not being used for new building construction, asbestos may still be present in older homes or buildings. Many people are completely unaware that this hazardous material is in the walls or floors of the home in which they live or the building that they work in.
If asbestos is not touched, it is not harmful. Asbestos only becomes dangerous if it is disrupted, which typically occurs if there is construction or a renovation. Therefore, if you are planning to do any work on a home or building that is older, you should make sure that you have it checked for asbestos first. Renovations and construction can still be done once a professional has taken the proper steps to remove the asbestos safely.