March 19

The Dangers of Asbestos Exposure

Many risks are faced by artisan contractors whose work may include some demolition to reach what they need to work on. Recently built homes tend to be safer to work on, because in the last couple of decades building codes have become much more refined and effective in safety measures.

Working on older buildings, however, is where risk begins to escalate when demolition needs to take place. One of the greatest threats an artisan contractor can run into during demolition is a material called asbestos.

Asbestos is a heat resistant, fibrous, silicate mineral that can be woven into fabrics and used as a fire resistant insulating material for houses and buildings. Up until 1972, it was the most common material used for heat insulation; then the dangers of the material were discovered.

There are three diseases that are triggered by inhaling asbestos fibers: asbestosis, mesothelioma, and lung cancer. Asbestosis is caused when asbestos fibers are inhaled and become trapped in the lungs. In response, the body tries to dissolve the fibers by producing an acid. While not destroying the fibers, the acid serves to scar the lung tissue. Eventually the scarring can become so severe that the lungs become unable to function. The time from exposure to the manifestation of asbestosis in most patients is between 25 to 40 years. Mesothelioma is a cancer of the outside tissue of the lungs. This cancer is solely linked to asbestos. The time from exposure to manifestation of mesothelioma is from 15 to 35 years. Cancer of the lungs can also be caused by exposure to asbestos.

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The diseases that inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause are quite serious. This is the reason why asbestos is one of the most dangerous risks faced by artisan contractors if they come across it in an older structure they are working on. Breathing masks are a MUST if asbestos is discovered on a job site. The mask will act as a filter over one’s nose and mouth to prevent the fibers from being inhaled. It is a very simple solution to prevent some very serious complications.

When working in older buildings it is imperative to be on the lookout for the asbestos material and take the proper precautions should it be found on the job site. Doing so will keep contractors safe, and most importantly, healthy.

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