Unfortunately, manufacturers were using heavy amounts of asbestos in materials for centuries before medical experts were able to determine that the fibrous nature of the asbestos mineral made it a carcinogenic substance to humans when inhaled or ingested. This means that thousands of workers and laborers were exposed to the dangerous matter before regulations were put in place to control and deal with the issue. The people who were unwittingly exposed to asbestos are now medicine’s only true experience with the mineral’s effects, and what scientists know today is largely based on studies of these exposed workers.
Determining that men and women who work to remove the hazardous materials from homes should wear personal protection suits and breathing apparatuses designed to prevent asbestos from being inhaled means that even a few fibers of the mineral can harm someone noticeably. The workers who were employed by the former manufacturers of products laced heavily with the mineral have been exposed to monumentally dangerous amounts of the fibers, and so they suffered heavily.
Asbestos Exposure Health Complications
Asbestos exposure has been linked to a number of health complications and diseases. Most of these diseases involve complications with the respiratory system and cause mutations in the DNA of the lungs and scarification of the lungs and throat. There are instances of non-respiratory issues, but some of the most common and well-known diseases involving exposure to asbestos do involve the respiratory system and are as follows:
- This disease is an actual cancer of the tissue surrounding the chest and abdomen. In addition to the cancer of the mesothelium, cancers of the stomach, liver, esophagus, and other non-respiratory organs has been reported.
- Pleural Plaque
- This disease is characterized by the thickening of the lining of the chest cavity.
- This disease is actually named after the fibrous mineral that causes it. This disease means that the fibers from the mineral have scarred the lung tissue. It makes the tissue unable to convert gases in the lung and weakens the muscle’s elasticity.
Additionally, the on-set of health complications from being exposed to asbestos or asbestos containing materials takes a long time to appear. In patients who began exhibiting asbestosis symptoms and were later diagnosed, the asbestos health effects did not appear until about 15 to 30 years after exposure. In patients who developed mesothelioma, the latency period, or length of time between a contact with a hazardous material that will eventually result in a health effect, and the beginning of signs that there is an issue that is related to the subsequent health effect.
Asbestos exposure has a direct relationship with the harm that it does to a person. For example, someone who worked at a factory that manufactured asbestos containing products was exposed to exponentially higher amounts of asbestos than a person who may have worked in an office with asbestos insulation. The correlation between exposure amounts, time exposed, and the purported health effects to be suffered is called a dose-response relationship. This relationship means that a person who worked in an factory that produced asbestos containing materials for fifteen years, but just left the factory, would feel healthier than a person who installed asbestos insulation for two years thirty years prior, but would eventually suffer a worse fates.