Most people believe that natural and organic material has a much lower likelihood of causing illness than synthetics. There is some truth to this, but there are many natural materials that can cause harm. Asbestos is one of them.
The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute describes it as a natural mineral found in the soil and in rocks. Unfortunately, American builders used material containing asbestos to insulate pipes, add fireproof qualities to drywall and even strengthen the cement for many years. It was not until the 1970s that scientists and doctors discovered the adverse effects asbestos had on people.
One of the problematic features of asbestos is how fine the particles are. These can get suspended in the air and then breathed in by people. The fibers then lodge in the lung tissue and cause scarring, inflammation and even the development of tumors. Here are some specific lung diseases caused by asbestos:
- Mesothelioma, which occurs when the tissue around the lungs develop cancerous tumors
- Asbestosis, which occurs when it scars the lungs
- Pleural plaques, which refers to the hardening of structures around the diaphragm and lungs
- Pleural effusion, which is a type of pleurisy
Timespan to develop illnesses
Asbestos may lodge in the lungs for up to 40 years before it begins to cause noticeable trouble. Some people develop illnesses and their symptoms within as early as 10 years. The rate of exposure may determine this, as well as individual susceptibility.
People who believe they have been exposed to asbestos need to contact their physician as soon as possible. A physical scan, chest CT scan and X-ray will be used to confirm or deny exposure.