If you work in the construction industry renovating older buildings, there is a good chance you may eventually encounter asbestos. This substance of needle-thin fibers has in the past been used as an insulator and fire retardant. Unfortunately, it also causes serious illnesses, including asbestosis, mesothelioma and other types of cancer.
According to the Mayo Clinic, asthma is a lung condition that causes airways to swell, narrow or fill with mucus. If you have this condition, you likely take a long-term control medication and carry a rescue inhaler for emergencies. You also should realize that asbestos may trigger a deadly asthma flareup.
Asbestos may or may not cause asthma
Whether asbestos exposure can cause an otherwise healthy individual to develop asthma is not exactly clear. Some research studies indicate a causal link between asbestos and asthma, while others do not. If you have the following risk factors, though, you may have an increased likelihood of developing asthma after working around asbestos:
- Having a family history of asthma
- Being overweight or obese
- Having allergies
- Breathing exhaust fumes
- Working with certain chemicals
A sudden asthma attack may occur
Because asthma attacks restrict the flow of oxygen, a severe one can be deadly. Unfortunately, even if you have immediate access to a rescue inhaler, the device may be ineffective at stopping a serious asthma attack. While researchers disagree about whether asbestos causes asthma to develop, most believe asthma attacks are possible after asbestos exposure. Accordingly, if you encounter this substance in your construction job, a serious asthma attack may be imminent.
Few things are scarier than not being able to breathe freely. If you develop asthma after handling asbestos, you may require daily medication to manage your condition. Even worse, if you already have asthma, even brief exposure may exacerbate your symptoms considerably. As a construction worker, you should understand the connection between asbestos and asthma to better protect your overall health.