Asbestos is a carcinogenic mineral that has been extensively used all over Australia since the 1930s. The excellent tensile strength and high resistance to heat and corrosion made them a fantastic building material. By the mid-1980s, Asbestos was common throughout the country and used everywhere, from pipelines to walls. Asbestos removal in Wollongong started soon after the material was deemed toxic and was banned in 2003. Even with the ban, the material was still present in many homes in Wollongong, especially the older ones that dated far back.
Industries and companies that still used Asbestos for production without regulations were met with strict government retaliation, as was the case for the Wollongong recycling issue in 2018. Asbestos removal in Wollongong is still prevalent owing to the millions of tonnes of Asbestos remaining in the ceiling, pipes and walls of Wollongong houses.
The Various Health Risks Involved As A Result of Prolonged Exposure
Wollongong residents are exposed to Asbestos through the fibres that get permanently lodged in their bodies. Prolonged exposure will keep letting these fibres clump into larger masses which in turn causes various tissues in the body, the severe ones being listed below:
Asbestosis: Chronic lung disease that is caused as a result of asbestos exposure. Scarring of lung tissue and difficulty in breathing are among the main issues seen in workers handling the material back in the day. Symptoms of asbestosis include:
- Dry coughs that persist for a long time.
- Tightness or pain in the chest during breathing or while working.
- Crackling sounds in the chest and lungs when inhaling air.
- Indications of clubbing which is the widening of fingers and toes.
Cancer: Lung cancer was seen in asbestos miners and handlers of the material, and greater exposure meant a higher risk in the long run. Severe exposure resulted in rarer forms of lung cancers known as mesothelioma, which affected the thin lining of the organs present inside the lungs. However, both forms of asbestos-related cancer occur after a decade or two of exposure. They were even seen in family members of workers or those that resided near asbestos factories. Cancer in stomach linings was also seen in those exposed to Asbestos, while a minor number saw cancer in kidneys and throat.
Pleural Disease: Although not cancerous, it was still fatal as it caused drastic changes in the membrane surrounding the lungs and the chest cavity. Membranes got thick, or the lungs had a significant build-up of fluid, reducing the efficiency of the lungs during breathing while doing strenuous physical activities.
What Should People Do If They Are Exposed To Asbestos
Short term exposure to Asbestos may cause minor problems in the long run, but it’s never fatal. It’s those who are exposed regularly that should keep an eye on their health and well being. Do understand that Asbestos cannot be taken out of the body. So if there is any indication of asbestos exposure, try to reduce them as much as possible.
- If there’s any difficulty in breathing or a persistent minor cough, see a medical professional immediately. It might be beneficial to keep in touch with them to track the exposure regularly.
- Change jobs or get away from areas that are riddled with asbestos exposure. Nothing is worth putting the health in jeopardy in the coming 10 to 20 years.
- Avoid smoking and quit tobacco products that harm the lungs. Smoking while exposed to Asbestos is like putting fuel to the fire, increasing the risk of lung cancer or other related diseases.