Asbestos is a natural mineral used in many manmade products. It has many wonderful characteristics, such as being fire retardant.
However, it is also incredibly dangerous because of how it breaks down. For this reason, when products made with it become damaged, it can put people’s health at risk.
How asbestos is constructed
Asbestos consists of microscopic fibers. When disturbed, these fibers get into the air and remain there. Since they are so small, you may not even be aware of what is happening, and protecting against the fibers is difficult without special equipment.
How asbestos impacts health
Because the fibers remain suspended in the air, you can easily breathe them in. They then become trapped in your lungs. The natural defense system in your lungs will usually be able to combat many of the fibers and send them back out of your body. But some fibers will bypass that safeguard and lodge in the lungs. Despite your body’s best efforts, once in the lungs, the fibers will stick around, which can then lead to cancer formation. It can also create scar tissue, which inhibits the lungs’ ability to work properly.
Since your body is likely to expel most fibers, you would need to have repeated and long-term exposure to asbestos to have any serious health risks. A one-time exposure is not likely to lead to anything severe. In addition, conditions caused by asbestos typically take years to develop and for symptoms to appear.
The known risks of asbestos have led to more care with the use of the mineral and many restrictions on its use to protect people from the serious health issues it can cause.