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What to Do If You’re Exposed to Asbestos

Posted on by Asbestos Waste Solutions Limited

Formerly one of the most popular building materials in the country, asbestos poses a serious health risk to anyone who is exposed to it.

While asbestos has been illegal to use in construction for many years now, it is still present in older buildings throughout the country, which is why it is still a threat today. This month, we’re taking a look at what you should do if you are exposed to asbestos, from recognising symptoms to finding proper treatment.

Main risks of asbestos

The health risks of asbestos are incredibly serious, with over 2000 deaths a year in the UK associated with an asbestos-related disease. Asbestos exposure can lead to different types of cancer, and symptoms may not develop for 15-60 years after exposure. The main diseases caused by asbestos exposure are:

  • Mesothelioma –  a cancer of the lung tissue, almost always fatal
  • Lung cancer – almost always fatal
  • Asbestosis – scarring of the lungs. A debilitating disease that, while not always fatal, can lead to lung cancer and mesothelioma

Symptoms and exposure

As we said above, the symptoms of asbestos-related diseases can take years to develop. Normally, it takes routine exposure to asbestos fibres to develop an asbestos-related disease, although short term exposure has also been found to lead to disease in some cases.

If you have been exposed to asbestos, it is important to make an appointment with your doctor immediately, and have regular check ups to keep on top of the potential development of symptoms throughout the years.

It is also important to be aware of the symptoms of mesothelioma so you can recognise them if they do develop. Noticing symptoms early will allow you to pursue proper treatment, so if you have been exposed to asbestos and begin noticing any of the following, make an appointment with your doctor:

  • wheezing cough / dry cough
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pains
  • breathing difficulty
  • rapid weight loss
  • fever and fatigue

If you have symptoms

If symptoms have developed, talk with your doctor about seeing a mesothelioma specialist or oncologist. They can determine whether your symptoms are indicative of mesothelioma or asbestos-related lung cancer, or if they are due to something unrelated.

It is always worth looking for a second opinion from a specialist regardless if you have been exposed to asbestos and have recognised the symptoms. It may be possible that symptoms are misdiagnosed at first, so specialist advice will provide you with a clearer idea if you are still worried.

For serious diseases such as those caused by asbestos exposure, it is always best to be cautious and seek treatment or advice as early as possible, instead of waiting until symptoms have progressed – suggesting that the cancer has spread. Early diagnosis and treatment will help you maintain a better quality of life if you have contracted mesothelioma or asbestos-related lung cancer.

Limiting exposure

Because asbestos is no longer used in construction, most cases of asbestos-related disease are found in workers who have been exposed to asbestos in older buildings, during demolition, for instance. The presence of asbestos should be tested for thoroughly before any work begins on-site, with proper steps taken to limit exposure for all workers.

The HSE have a detailed flowchart detailing how to deal with asbestos-containing materials in the workplace, which you can view here. (Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence.)

Removing asbestos

Different kinds of asbestos carry different risks, and some are more common and more dangerous than others. That said, it is important to take caution with any asbestos you come into contact with, treating each material with the same level of care.

Removing asbestos should only be performed by professional, certified asbestos removal specialists. Attempting to deal with asbestos unprepared will lead to a high risk of the development of an asbestos-related disease, which can cause serious problems throughout your life.

Asbestos Waste Solutions offer expert asbestos waste management services, from asbestos audits, disposal and collection. Our team are highly trained and work with absolute safety at all times. If you need a reliable and efficient asbestos disposal service, or any more information and adviceget in touch with the experts at Asbestos Waste Solutions today.

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