Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral and is classified in subgroups of chrysotile and amphibole. Amphiboles have got straight, needle-like fibers and are considered more hazardous than chrysotile in relation to short term asbestos exposure. Amphiboles consist of actinolite, anthophylite, amosite, crocidolite and tremolite asbestos.
Short Term Asbestos Exposure
Exposure usually occurs when the person is not occupationally involved in asbestos exposure. For example, someone who is renovating their home could be exposed to asbestos fibers from old insulation, roofing and tiles for the duration of renovation which could last from a couple of weeks to a few months.
Is There any Health Risk Difference in Short Term and Long Term Asbestos Exposure?
Yes. Long term asbestos exposure is almost always likely to cause an asbestos related disease. The risk of disease in short term asbestos exposure is present, but not as much as in long term asbestos exposure. This will also depend on the amount of asbestos fibers inhaled. The risk for short term and long term asbestos inhalation could be the same if the short term inhalation consists of hazardous amounts of asbestos fibers and if constant long term inhalation consists of negligible amounts of asbestos fibers.
Possible Diseases Due to Exposure
Low levels of short term asbestos exposure is not considered a threat to humans and can generally be overlooked.
You should be concerned of the effects of exposure when the duration has been short, but the amount of asbestos fibers inhaled were way over limits. Especially short term exposure where renovation of a house is concerned, or during shipbreaking, even the microscopic particles could form a cloud of asbestos fibers and be inhaled by you. This is a cause for concern and you should get medical attention as soon as possible.
Asbestosis is caused when excess asbestos fibers get firmly lodged in the lungs and cause fibrosis / lung scarring.
Following are some symptoms caused by asbestosis.
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty in breathing
- Constant dry cough
- Constant pain in the chest
- Pulmonary hypertension
- Excess phlegm
Lung cancer is one of the leading causes of long term asbestos exposure and could occur in a high level short term asbestos exposure.
Following are some symptoms caused by lung cancer.
- Increase in sputum production
- Blood mixed with sputum
- Chest pain
- Lung infection
- Dry, irritating cough
Mesothelioma is a very rare form of cancer of the thin membranes surrounding the lungs / abdomen.
Following are some symptoms caused by Mesothelioma.
- Shortness of breath that keeps on increasing as the disease progresses
- Difficulty in breathing due to lung compression caused by the disease
- Constant pain in the chest which ranges from mild to severe pain
- Unexplained sudden abdominal swelling and pain
- Unexplained weight loss
Get Medical Advice
The symptoms of disease relating to asbestos inhalation will not show up immediately, usually taking approximately 15 to 40 years to develop.
If you know that you have been exposed to a high level short term asbestos exposure / inhalation, do not just pass it off. It could possibly be developing into an irreversible cancer. Get medical advice from a physician who has experience in asbestos related diseases and also get the required check-ups done immediately. This should be followed by yearly check-ups to for any symptoms of asbestos related disease.