Asbestos-related diseases are some of the least talked about medical crises in the UK. It kills nearly the same number of people as alcohol-specific cases incidents and yet, fails to gain the necessary attention. As a professional asbestos removal service, we conduct at least one asbestos survey in Essex every day, and here are our expert tips on how you can avoid asbestos exposure without much trouble before it causes irreversible damage to your health.
What is asbestos and why is asbestos harmful?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was once used for insulation and fireproofing. It is a fibrous material made up of long, thin strands called fibers that are up to 1/700 the diameter of human hair. These fibers are made up of six different types of minerals: amosite, chrysotile, crocidolite, actinolite, tremolite, and anthophyllite. They form when asbestos forms naturally in rock formations or when it is added to other materials during manufacturing procedures.
These microscopic fibrous minerals have been used in products, such as floor tiles, roofing shingles, gaskets, and friction materials used in steam engines because they are lightweight and resistant to heat.
Now banned in many countries due to the health risks caused by exposure to asbestos fibers, asbestos exposure can cause various health problems, including asbestosis and respiratory issues.
When inhaled over time, asbestos can cause scarring inside your lungs and can lead to other serious health problems, including lung cancer or mesothelioma — a rare type of cancer that develops from exposure to asbestos.
Symptoms of asbestos exposure
Most cases of asbestos-related diseases occur when someone is exposed to asbestos for a short period of time — for example, as part of their job or in the course of home improvement projects. Below are some signs to look for:
- Chest pain.
- Shortness of breath.
- Dizziness and lightheadedness.
- A persistent cough occurs when you are not around asbestos.
- Aching muscles and joints.
- Painful swelling in the legs, especially if you sit or stand for long periods of time. This discomfort may be worse at night when you are sleeping or sitting still. It may also be worse if you sleep on your side or stomach.
- Itchy skin and rashes that don’t go away.
The signs of asbestos exposure can vary depending on the type of asbestos and how it was inhaled. In some cases, these symptoms can be severe enough to be fatal.
Tips to avoid asbestos exposure
Since it has been used for many years in a variety of products, today asbestos can be found in the following products:
- Insulation — For decades, asbestos insulation was used to insulate pipes, boilers, and other structures. It was also used in electrical wires, where it can still be found.
- Breathing masks — Asbestos respirators worn by miners to protect them from breathing in coal dust and other toxic substances contain traces of asbestos.
- Carpet tile — Carpet tile contains asbestos fibers that are released into the air when it is installed or removed.
- Hot water heaters — Hot water heaters possess asbestos insulation that could release fibers into the air when heated.
- Building materials — Building materials such as cement, drywall, concrete blocks, pipes, tiles, and roofing shingles all contain asbestos fibers that could be released into the air when they are damaged or removed.
Once you have been exposed to asbestos, there are many steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing potentially life-threatening diseases. Let’s discuss some of them.
Keep your environment clean
If you live in an area that is known to have asbestos-containing materials, such as insulation, it is important to keep your environment clean. You should remove any dust or mold that you see or find inside your home or on the floor.
If you are unsure about how to eliminate asbestos from your environment, contact a professional who can assist you with this process. Asbestos surveyors can inspect your property, identify asbestos contamination, and help you remove it safely from your direct contact.
Avoid direct contact with items containing possible asbestos
If you live in a home that was built before 1999, there is a good chance it contains asbestos. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that can be found in construction materials, such as cement and insulation, which are regularly found in any property.
Common, everyday items, such as old pipes, broken tiles, and heaters, could contain asbestos. It is advised to wear rubber gloves and masks when handling these products to keep your hands from coming into contact with the fibers in the material and help prevent yourself from breathing in the fibers that may be present on them.
Reduce your exposure to any nearby construction activities
This can be done by limiting your exposure to construction work happening around your property as they carry high concentrations of asbestos in the surrounding air. You can keep your doors and windows shut during the course of the construction and even consider wearing a mask at all times to reduce the risks.
Alternatively, if you are carrying out construction-related activities within your property, such as painting or refurbishing an area that contains asbestos, wear a respirator while working in that area so as not to breathe in any of its fibers.
Avoid getting your shoes inside the house
Shoes bring in more bacteria and contamination than any other clothing item. You can avoid the infiltration of asbestos into your property by simply placing a doormat at the entrance of your property and leaving the shoes at the door. Changing the footwear after stepping in is the easiest way to prevent the spread of asbestos.
Asbestos kills about 5,000 people every year in the UK. Clearly, it is an alarming issue that not many people pay heed to. Asbestos Gone can help you thoroughly inspect and remove asbestos from your property safely so that you can avoid the devastating medical consequences of asbestos exposure. Get in touch with our team today!