On paper, asbestos seems like a great building material because of its heat-resistant properties. However, time proved that any exposure to asbestos can be dangerous. Many Americans who worked in the military, construction, mining, oil refineries, power plants, and railroads worked with asbestos without realizing the dangers. If you want to know why asbestos is so dangerous, keep reading.
Asbestos Becomes Airborne
Asbestos was once commonly used in many building materials, such as cloth, cement, insulation, and plastic. It is naturally occurring and has amazing insulating properties. If asbestos particles get into the air, however, you can breathe them into your lungs and they can get stuck inside your lungs.
The complications take time to show, but eventually, the trapped fibers can cause inflammation and scaring in the lungs. If exposure is severe enough, the asbestos fibers can actually cause genetic damage on a cellular level.
It Was Used Nearly Everywhere
Another reason asbestos is considered so dangerous is because of how frequently it was used. Every branch of the military, in particular, used a lot of materials containing asbestos. As a result, a lot of people have been exposed to asbestos.
While new construction projects stopped using asbestos by 1980, many army installations still contained the toxic substance, exposing more and more people every year. Older buildings and homes may also contain asbestos. You can often find asbestos in attics, vinyl floor tiles, roofing shingles, textured paint, and heat-resistant fabrics.
Symptoms Take Time to Show
Normally, if something makes you sick, you realize it quickly. For example, if you eat expired food, you get food poisoning immediately to let you know what made you sick. Asbestos exposure, however, does not make you sick right away. Plus, because the fibers are so small and cling to clothing, you can even make your family sick without realizing it.
It may not be until 10 or even 50 years down the road that symptoms of asbestos exposure begin to arise. This is why so many people were exposed to asbestos for a long period of time before anyone realized it was making people seriously sick.
It Causes Asbestosis
One common disease associated with asbestos is asbestosis. How long and how often you were exposed to asbestos plays a huge role in when your symptoms begin to appear as well as how severe they are. When symptoms do appear, you may have shortness of breath and a persistent dry cough. Some people experience clubbing of the fingertips or toes.
There is no cure for asbestosis, but your doctor will be able to help you control the symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. Above all, however, you need to care for your lungs in the future, which means you should not smoke and should stay away from asbestos.
It Is a Leading Cause of Mesothelioma
Lung cancer has many causes, but mesothelioma (a type of lung cancer) is only caused by exposure to asbestos. This is an aggressive form of cancer, and after diagnosis, you may only have 12 to 21 months left to live.
Symptoms of mesothelioma include abdominal pain, chest pain, coughing, difficulty breathing, and fluid buildup. Treatment involves removing as many cancer cells as possible, which may include surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy.
Asbestos is the only cause of mesothelioma, but even if you do not develop lung cancer, asbestos can cause breathing complications for the rest of your life. If you believed you were exposed to asbestos in the military and you need help getting money to afford your medical bills, contact us at The Veterans Asbestos Alliance today.