Asbestos has always been a respiratory hazard and respiratory/gastrointestinal carcinogen. Asbestos tends to break down into a dust of microscopic size fibers. Exposure to asbestos occurs when respirable fibers are released into the air and then inhaled. Because of their size and shape, these tiny fibers remain suspended in the air for long periods of time and can easily penetrate body tissues after being inhaled or ingested. Remember, asbestos fibers are much too small to be seen without a powerful microscope. In fact, an average human hair is approximately 1200 times thicker than an asbestos fiber.
Asbestos is especially dangerous when breathed in. It is very hard to determine if asbestos is present in the air you breathe, as it does not cause immediate problems like coughing or itchiness. Symptoms may not appear for 10 to 40 years after being exposed to asbestos. Diseases caused by asbestos are hard to treat and most often impossible to cure. Asbestosis is one common asbestos related disease. It causes an inflammation in the lungs. Mesothelioma is a rare asbestos disease that is a cancer of the outside lining of the lungs and abdomen. Asbestos has also been associated with other forms of lung cancer. Asbestos related diseases are very painful. Since exposure occurs when asbestos is inhaled, the best way to prevent exposure is to prevent asbestos fibers from becoming airborne...Period.
Asbestos is no longer used due to the health concerns surrounding this material. Asbestos is most dangerous when a product made from it is bothered and the dust is released into the air. The only way to safely handle, detect, encapsulate or remove asbestos is through a professional trained to work with asbestos.
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