Asbestos is a group of naturally occurring mineral found in rocks and soil throughout the world. Due to their resistance to chemicals, heat, fire, and lack of electrical conductivity, it was a popular insulating material in the 20th Century. The fibers, used in everything from homes and schools to ships and automobile components, are everywhere. Unfortunately, it turns out that these bundles of fibers may be as dangerous as the conditions it improved.
According to the American Cancer Society, Chrysotile and Amphibole are the two primary types of asbestos and both have links to cancer. While exposure to asbestos occurs naturally outdoors as a result of the erosion of particular rock types, the heaviest exposure results in those who work in the shipbuilding and insulation industries.
Inhaled fibers can stick to the mucus in the lungs, windpipe and throat. Over time it can penetrate the outer lining of the chest wall and lungs. If your exposure was brief or at low levels, you might have a low risk of resulting disease. If your job exposed you to asbestos over a long period of time or at high levels, your chances of specific cancers increases. Here some steps you can take steps to protect your health after exposure.
- Stop smoking – Studies suggest that smoking may increase the risk of developing lung cancer.
- Get vaccinated – Vaccines against pneumonia and flu may help your immune system withstand some of the damage caused by the asbestos fibers.
- Schedule regular checkups – Your doctor can tell you what types of tests, such as CT scans, lung function tests or chest x-rays may help find signs of asbestos-related diseases.
- See your doctor – If you have symptoms such as shortness of breath, trouble swallowing or coughing up blood, go to a doctor promptly.
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