Asbestos in The Natural Environment

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Asbestos in the Natural Environment, Volume 37

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Asbestos pipe wrap joint partially removed. Asbestos fibers may be released into the air by the disturbance of asbestos-containing material during product use, demolition work, building or home maintenance, repair, and remodeling. In general, exposure may occur only when the asbestos-containing material is disturbed or damaged in some way to release particles and fibers into the air. Exposure to asbestos increases your risk of developing lung disease.

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That risk is made worse by smoking. In general, the greater the exposure to asbestos, the greater the chance of developing harmful health effects. Asbestos-related conditions can be difficult to identify. Healthcare providers usually identify the possibility of asbestos exposure and related health conditions like lung disease by taking a thorough medical history. That is because asbestos is made of tiny fibres that, when released into the air can settle inside the lungs and irritate the tissues in the chest cavity.

This irritation can cause a whole host of unsavoury medical conditions. Perhaps the most serious is mesothelioma, an aggressive and difficult-to-treat cancer that affects the tissues lining the chest cavity. For this reason, asbestos is classified as a carcinogen.

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In fact, the connection between mesothelioma and asbestos is so obvious that individuals have won asbestos compensation because they were exposed to this toxic agent through an occupational setting. Besides personal health, asbestos has a negative impact on the environment.

A study presented in at the international conference Health, The Environment and Justice found that asbestos dust can easily travel through the air into the water supply. It can also settle on the surface of the soil instead of getting absorbed into the ground, which means that it can still get picked up by the wind and inhaled into human lungs.

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The study found that countries with a history of production and consumption of asbestos showed high incidence levels of asbestos-related diseases and pronounced levels of asbestos particles in the environment. This shows that asbestos can pose significant risk even after it has been banned in the countries featured in the study.

If you are living or working in a building that was built during the s, parts of it may contain asbestos. But this is not necessarily cause for worry. You should only be concerned if any part of the building is deteriorating or otherwise damaged.

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Once the material is damaged, the asbestos fibres can enter the air and either enter the lungs or seep into the water supply. If you notice any damage, the next step is to section off the surrounding area to prevent others from encountering the asbestos dust.