Although we now know that asbestos is a human carcinogen, it was once embraced as a wonderful insulating material that was added to a number of different materials. Thus, many people were exposed to the toxin without realizing it. Additionally, older buildings can still contain asbestos today despite the dangers. If you suspect that you have been exposed to toxic asbestos, you may want to talk to a doctor about tests for early cancer detection.
The reason why some asbestos is considered toxic is that not all asbestos is friable. Friable means that the asbestos is able to flake off into microscopic pieces that you can inhale or ingest. Some asbestos is non-friable, meaning that it is so bound up into another material that it cannot escape and permeate your body.
Once you inhale or ingest asbestos, the problem is that your body is unable to break down and process the fibers to get rid of them. The fibers can become lodged in your throat, esophagus, lungs, digestive system, and even kidneys. Here, your body may form nodules of tissue around the fibers. These nodules can turn into cancerous tumors or scar tissue.
There are some people who are more at risk than others for suffering from asbestos exposure. People who worked in the construction industry, including plumbers and electricians, were probably surrounded by asbestos since it was utilized in everything from insulation to vinyl flooring to ceiling tiles. Additionally, automotive workers are especially at risk for asbestos inhalation and ingestion because it is a component in brake pads and shoes. Brake friction can cause the asbestos to become friable, so that when the auto technician changes the brake pads or shoes, they release clouds of asbestos fibers into the air.
Also, those who worked in the shipping industry or shipyard construction may have been exposed to this toxin. Veterans, especially those who spent time on ships, are prone to developing asbestos-related diseases. Interestingly, teachers are also at risk for developing lung cancer, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-caused disorders. This is because older school buildings were often built using asbestos. When teachers spend almost every day in the building, they can gradually take in more and more asbestos.
Sadly, some people are more affected by asbestos than others. This explains why women or families whose provider worked in careers that exposed them to asbestos can also develop asbestos-related diseases. Even the particles left over on clothing can trigger cancer.