Health Dangers of Asbestos

Learn The Health Risks Associated To Asbestos Exposure


Asbestos has a rich history as a common industrial material. However, in the late 1800’s it was discovered that this useful flame retardant material was extremely hazardous to our health. The use of asbestos continued until the 1970s when its use was outlawed. More than 100,00 people have died due to asbestos related illnesses, such as Mesothelioma and respiratory afflictions. In Australia alone, an estimated 25,000 people will die from these issues in the next four decades. Despite these serious statistics, asbestos is still used in some materials. This fact makes it more important than ever to educate people about the health dangers of asbestos. In fact, the United States is one of those developed countries that still allows its use. Countries, such as Australia has joined in on the movement to stop the use of this deadly material by banning all asbestos use.

Many continue to discover their health ailments were caused by asbestos exposure. Besides being a popular material used for insulation, asbestos was also commonly used to create roofing shingles and siding. Many older homes have been forced to be renovated or demolished because of this. Asbestos can break down into tiny fibers that living beings can breathe in. Asbestos abatement costs hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, as more and more buildings are discovered to be affected.

About Asbestos in Australia

Asbestos was regularly used in construction and many other industries around the world, especially in Australia. Because of its popularity of use from 1946 to 1980, there were several instances of people suffering from asbestos related conditions. As the world began to learn about the danger of asbestos use and exposure in the 1970s, people began to learn how dangerous this material was, but it took several years for the dangers to be taken seriously. Mining of asbestos did not stop until 1983 and asbestos was still used as a building material until 1989. In fact, it was commonly used as a flame retardant insulation. While the use of asbestos decreased immensely, this dangerous product was not made illegal in the country until 2003. Now that fourteen years have passed, Australia has informed their citizens about the risks of exposure to asbestos. The country has created several resources to help those that suffer from asbestos related conditions, such as mesothelioma and other severe respiratory diseases. While countries like Australia are working hard to protect their residents, the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat is leading the movement around the rest of the world.

Why Asbestos was Banned

Danger Asbestos Sign

Asbestos was banned and outlawed in many countries, including Australia because of the serious health risks it poses those that come in contact with. After this material was a popular flame retardant, insulation material and material for roof shingles and house siding, many people (mostly laborers) have been affected. In the 1960s, medical professionals began to link the use of asbestos with certain respiratory ailments, such as lung caner and mesothelioma. Unfortunately, these warnings were largely ignored for many years because of the asbestos industry’s involvement in politics. Millions of people around the world were becoming sick and suffering from respiratory illness related to this toxic substance. The legislation to outlaw the use of asbestos completely is still in progress, but many countries have taken great stride to protect their citizens.

How can Asbestos Effect Your Health?

Asbestos is not toxic in solid form. However, it is the asbestos fibers that pose such a dangerous health risk to people. As asbestos fibers are released into the air, the particles are breathed in by people in the surrounding area. Once these fibers get into our lungs, the damage begins. The fibers enter the lungs and irritate them. This cause the lining of the lungs and chest to scar. This scarring leads to trouble breathing, a crackling wheeze and severe respiratory conditions.

At the time, there are no cures for these deadly conditions. Even worse, it may take several years for these conditions to develop, which make them harder to diagnose at the time of infection. Some patients develop an asbestos related illness more than ten to fifty years after encountering these toxic fibers.

How can you become exposed?

As discussed above, people are exposed to asbestos fibers in the air. There are several ways that asbestos materials can be disturbed and cause the fibers to enter the air. Common occurrences, such as replacing old insulation, water damage, weathering, construction on older buildings and asbestos abatement. It does not take a huge disturbance to release toxic fibers into the air. One of the most dangerous aspects of asbestos is that the fibers are too small to see and it is impossible to detect without professional equipment. This makes asbestos contamination even more dangerous and deadly.

Who is at Risk?

Many people are at risk, especially those that worked in construction and industrial occupation during the height of asbestos popularity (60s and 70s). After it takes so long for symptoms and illnesses to develop, many of these individuals are just now developing serious respiratory illnesses. Now days, the people that are most at risk of asbestos exposure are those that work with construction renovation or demolishing of older buildings. More than a million construction workers are predicted to be exposed to this lethal material.

There is also a possibility of exposure for those people that live in older houses or those that are around older building renovations. If there is any trace of the toxic material in a structure, who ever enters that structure could be affected.

Also, there are some recreational activities that could lead to exposure, such as auto repair. Many car parts, such as brake pads contain this dangerous material. Disturbing or replacing these parts could lead to a potential exposure to fibers. There is also a rare occurrence of people becoming exposed to exposed fibers through naturally occurring asbestos while gardening or digging in soil.

Types of Health Problems

Asbestos Lung Diseases

There are several health problems that can develop due to these toxic fibers. All of these affect the respiratory system and chest area. There are no cure for these ailments and the symptoms can be very serious and even deadly.


Asbestosis is a chronic disease that attacks the body’s lung tissue. As the lung tissue becomes inflamed and scarred, it can cause serious respiratory symptoms. Many patients with asbestosis experience shortness of breath, trouble breathing and a wheezing breath. Asbestosis is caused by asbestosis fibers lodged in the lung’s air sacs, called alveoli. Depending on where the fibers become lodged will decide what type of ailment the person develops.


Mesothelioma can cause similar symptoms to asbestosis. However, this condition is a considered an aggressive form of cancer. It is caused by irritation caused by asbestos fiber becoming lodged in the lining of the lungs, also known as pleural lining. While it is a type of cancer, it is not considered lung cancer. Lung cancer is in the actual lungs. Both are extremely serious and can be deadly.

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer from asbestos exposure is caused by the scarring and irritation from asbestos fibers. A person can develop lung cancer and mesothelioma simultaneously. Patients with lung cancer can suffer from trouble breathing and crackling wheezing. There are many stages of lung cancer, but they are all very serious and possibly deadly.

Pleural Thickening

Pleural thickening is another serious health concern that is can be caused by exposure. This condition involves the protective membrane of the lungs. This disease attacks this membrane and causes severe scarring and inflammation. As scar tissue develops, it restricts the lungs movement and can cut off ample air flow. There are no cure for this deadly condition.

How to protect yourself from exposure

It is possible to protect yourself from toxic exposure by following a few recommendations. Take extra precaution if you must go to a location that could contain asbestos. Make sure to wear protective gears, such as a mask. Do not reuse these materials. Do not use tools that produce a lot of dust, like most power tools. Also, do not dust or sweep up debris. Instead use an industrial vacuum cleaner to prevent putting particles into the air. If you work in an environment that puts you at risk, make sure to change clothes before coming home to prevent contaminating your house. If you suspect asbestos in your home always seek advice from a professional asebstos removal company.

Assistance in Australia

Australia is working hard to make sure that their citizens are protected and informed about the dangers of this lethal substance. The Asbestos Safety and Eradication was organized in 2013 to help this mission of educating and preventing. It is currently working on supporting indigenous communities in remote areas of the country to help remove the presence of this toxic material. Besides this organization, there are several other places that are working hard to provide assistance to Australia, especially in the remote parts. There is a legacy of asbestos and its waste plagues these areas because of the cost and tedious process of removing and properly disposing of this material.


While asbestos was once a popular building and insulation material, it is now known to be a lethal and dangerous material. Those who were exposed to this material throughout the years are now developing serious respiratory conditions, such as asbestosis and lung cancer. This deadly consequences are leading organizations and public groups to work hard to educate and assists those affected by asbestos.