What is Asbestos?
Prolonged exposure to asbestos can cause a serious illness known ‘Asbestosis’.
Once used in buildings for insulation, flooring and roofing, Asbestos is a natural fibrous sillicate material that is found underground, often attached to other minerals. It has since been completely banned in the UK as of 1999 as scientists became fully aware of its dangerous properties to humans.
However, asbestos does not cause harm if left undamaged: it is only when the material containing asbestos is ripped or torn that a fine dust – known as asbestos particles/fibres – seeps into the air. Breathing in this substance can cause huge long-term problems for the lungs, but it does require long-term contact with it in order to develop asbestosis.
Am I at risk?
If you worked in heavy industry, building or construction from the 1970s to the 1990s, then it may be possible that you have been exposed to asbestos without knowing it.
Thankfully, modern restrictions mean that you’re unlikely to come into contact with it unless you have work that may potentially damage any lingering asbestos left in old buildings. There are, of course, certain jobs where exposure is more likely than others. Some of the more at-risk jobs include:
- Heating/Ventilation Engineers
- Construction Workers
- Demolition Workers
- Carpenters and Joiners
- Gas Fitters
- Painters and Decorators
- Telecommunications Engineers
If you still have concerns that you may have suffered exposure and your job title/role is not listed here, then do be sure to look at the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidelines here.
What are the symptoms of asbestosis?
Continual exposure over many years can eventually scar the lungs and cause a variety of symptoms. These include:
- Shortness of Breath
- Persistent Cough
- Shoulder/Chest Pain
- Swollen or Clubbed Fingertips
Things to consider
There are certain aspects that one must always remember when dealing with either asbestos or asbestosis. Do note:
- That it can take as much as 20-30 years before symptoms may appear
- That you cannot see or smell asbestos fibres in the air
- Smokers who also face asbestos exposure are at far greater risk of developing lung cancer
- Asbestos is a danger ONLY when fibres are made airborne
- As long as it remains undamaged, it poses no risk
Healthscreen UK are now fully able to carry out asbestos screenings
This means that we are able to do both types of asbestosis check in line with the Health and Safety Executive directives and Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012: licensed and unlicensed.
For more information on how to book an appointment for an asbestos medical and what the procedure entails please click here.