Being exposed to asbestos opens the possibility to many health problems and concerns. But saying exposure may not explain the whole scenario. One incident of asbestos exposure may be different from a different asbestos exposure. What determines the harmful effects are the conditions and scenarios of the exposure. Let’s talk about five factors that influence the risk of developing an asbestos-related disease.
The dose is the amount of asbestos an individual was exposed to in an incident. This can be from several occasion or one incident. Most of the health effects that are caused by asbestos exposure has a dose-response relationship. The more asbestos you are exposed to, the more likely you can get an asbestos-related disease. This is more of a concern for those working with asbestos. Industries such as shipbuilding, asbestos miners, and asbestos abatement workers.
Duration is the amount of time the individual was exposed to asbestos. Chances are that you have been in an environment that has been exposed to asbestos. You probably weren’t around for much time and kept exposure at a minimum (for example, walking by a building demolition that isn’t following code). You in a sense, experienced the same dose of asbestos exposure as the workers on the site, but with different duration. You might have been around the area for 8 minutes where the workers could’ve been there for 8 hours. The increase in duration increases the chances of inhaling asbestos fibers.
The Physical Characteristics of the asbestos fibers can vary from each fiber. There are six types of asbestos minerals – each with their physical appearance. On top of that, each type of asbestos mineral can have different physical structure. They may all have a fibrous blueprint, but some are considered “sharper” based on length and chemical composition. Some research has shown that asbestos in the amphibole group may be more harmful than the serpentine group, particularly for mesothelioma risk, because they tend to stay in the lungs for a longer period.
For more information about the types of asbestos fibers, check out our previous article on the Six Types Of Asbestos The U.S Regulates.
Source Of The Exposure
The source of the exposure is the location of the asbestos, and how it is getting spread throughout the area. As asbestos can come from many building materials, or natural sites, asbestos exposure can occur almost anywhere. The question is what caused the asbestos to be airborne in the first place. If asbestos were released due to a demolition of transite panels, fibers would be released into the air and eventually would settle, assuming no disturbance in the area. If asbestos was released due to the force in an HVAC system, then you may have a constant flow of asbestos fibers in the air. This increases the potential of inhaling asbestos.
No two people will have the same effect when it comes to asbestos exposure and their health effects. This is because no two lungs are the same. A person lung and its ability to push out asbestos will affect the chances of getting sick from asbestos. For example, if an individual has a history of smoking, their ability to fight off asbestos will be greatly diminished. Same goes for those with other pre-existing lung diseases. The weaker the lungs, the more susceptible they’re to get an asbestos-related disease.
Asbestos exposure is dangerous, but the danger is in the type of exposure. Most asbestos-related diseases have a dose-response relationship in which the greater the exposure, the more likely you are of getting sick. These illnesses tend to take years of exposure and even then can take 10 -20 years before symptoms even arise. Overall, it just best to avoid exposure when possible. If you are unsure that you are being exposed to asbestos, seek professional help and ask a consultant about what to do. Most likely you should be fine as EPA focuses on lowering the asbestos fibers in the air, but be aware if an incident does occur.