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asbestos and health issues

Updated on December 26, 2014

Health Issues with Asbestos

In Australia we were treated to the last years of a man's life after he fatally contracted mesothelioma from asbestos. It was miserable watching as he fought to bring awareness to the danger of this mined fibre.

Last night I watched Foreign Correspondent on ABC Australia and could not believe my eyes and ears. Despite all the work and awareness brought about by those who have suffered and died from this horrible preventable disease it is still being marketed, processed and used by people in India, and possibly elsewhere, who are obviously in the dark when it comes to working with it.

How Asbestos was Used in Australia

Many Died from Mesophilyoma caused by Asbestos

From my earliest childhood days asbestos was used in all sorts of things and no one was aware of the danger. Ships had pipes lined with it to stop heat loss. Houses had it as insulation. It was one of the chief ingredients in fibro, used to build many post war houses.

Here is a list of most likely uses as noted here

External guttering, downpipes and vent pipes;

Backing to electrical switchboards in a black product known as zelemite;

Vinyl sheeting and vinyl tiles used as largely for flooring;

Insulations to heater banks, air conditioning ducting and pipes;

Gaskets to pipes and pipe joins;

Certain paints will contain asbestos fibres such as Galbestos;

Brake pads and clutch pads to vehicles;

Mastics and glues behind wall tiles and vinyl;

Waterproofing in windows;

Roof tiles; and

Woven textile seals to old ovens, grillers and kitchen appliances.

Every one of these products was installed, uinstalled and maintained by people who had no idea of the dangers. They wore no protective clothing, masks or gloves when handling them, Worse still people working in the factories where they were manufactured were also unprotected. Some would have it caked over their limbs, in their eyes, nose and mouth, to say nothing of it clinging to their clothes and being transported out into the community. Public transport and the family home became secondary sources of contamination for others.

Disposal of old building materials and any and all of the above was simple. Take it to land fill! Here people would scour the tips for treasures and would be in contact with it quite unsuspectingly.

Asbestos

There is no cure for asbestosis or lung disease caused by this fibre.

Once you have it you are doomed unless your get a lung transplant.

What are You Thinking? - Anyone can respond to this

Have you been exposed to asbestos

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Open cut asbestos mine
Open cut asbestos mine

What Businesses Don't Tell You

Making Money from Ignorance

People are still making money from asbestos and using it in the most dangerous of situations for workers. In the media report mentioned about workers were angel deep in asbestos fibre with no protective clothing, When the reporter asked the manager about it he demanded that the camera crew leave the premises. He refused to answer questions and denied access to the factory itself.

Inside they were making fibro corrugated sheeting for roofing and it is used on thousands (probably millions) of homes throughout India. It is mined

MAC-Mines and Communities Published this report.

"Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) has written letters to the President, Vice President, National Human Rights Commission and the Defence Minister drawing their urgent attention towards a serious unprecedented environmental and occupational health crisis with regard to unnoticed asbestos epidemic in the country. Even if one asbestos fiber reaches the right place, it causes irreversible damage - leading to asbestosis, lung cancer or mesothelioma. Thirty deaths are caused per day from asbestos-related diseases as per estimates based on US and European studies."

While it is dated 2009 the Fpreign Correspondence Report by Matt Peacock was aired on Tuesday November 8th. In one factory featured a worker was picking up handfuls of the fiber to place in a machine that turned it into fibro. The manager denied he was at risk although the pile of material on the floor was up to his knees. He wore nothing but a common face mask as one does in the garden.

Some men interviewed were suffering the effects of the lung disease they contracted as a result of working in similar conditions. The people employed here wear the same clothes when they leave to go home.

Canada is another source of the firbre and denies that they are exporting deadly material. The Manager of the French Company interviewed said that it was packed into bags and was not a threat. In the factory where it was used some bags were split open and there was dust everywhere from it.

The Story on The News in Canada

What is Your Take on Asbestos

Do you believe asbestos is a toxic sunstance

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Human Cancer Cells
Human Cancer Cells

The Risk

Fibers so small they are undetectable kill

Asbestos fibres were packed into hessian bags in Australia and sent to factories around the country for processing into fibro and other things. It was used heavily in ship building and in products around businesses and the home. While it was undisturbed it posed little risk but then the houses and ships aged and renovation and maintenance became an issue.

Unbeknown to the general public the hessian bags that the fibre was transported in was made into underlay and used under carpets as extra padding. Fibro was ues for walls of houses and as an insulation where required. In my younger days I can remember wood stoves that were lined with asbestos, The hundreds of uses for the product is too large to attempt. Anyone coming into contact with it now are at risk and often children are seen playing around demolition sites or helping parents out who are renovating,

Now with renovations, additions to old homes, replacement of floor coverings, roofing and so on there is a new heightened danger from asbestos hitting Australia. A house fire or accident can expose the fibres and release them into the atmosphere. That makes many people extremely vulnerable.

The University of Melbourne published this report 12th May to 9th June 2008

"The hazards in manufacturing, lagging and shipbuilding were recognised, but the much larger workforce in construction went on being heavily exposed with no effective regulation at all. Australian builders, particularly carpenters, often had to cut asbestos cement board with power tools, which caused very high dust levels," Professor Peto says.

"The dangers of blue asbestos had been accepted in the 1960s, but there was a tragic alliance between people trying to defend the asbestos industry by arguing that brown asbestos was no more dangerous that white asbestos, and those who were campaigning for all asbestos to be banned, who minimised differences between fibre types under the slogan 'one fibre can kill'.

"If they had campaigned for brown asbestos to be abolished immediately at the same time as blue asbestos, its use would have been stopped 15 years earlier."

The tragedy is that India and other countries who are mining, exporting and/or using asbestos are not heeding the warnings. The same things is happening now as people downplay the danger of using the substance and manufacturers are making millions from it.

Pictured are human cancer cells alongside blood cells.

The Fibres are too Small to Detect

Its not Just Asbestos that Poses Such Danger

Many things are cancer causing and the most common is cigarette smoke. We all know when we have inhaled it either directly or passively. We, therefore, have the choice not to inhale it. But what about those who have come in contact with asbestos fibres and are unaware of it.

People travelling on public transport, for instance, who may be sitting beside someone from a factory where he/she was subjected to the dust, The unsuspecting home renovator or even a school kid who trips over and breaks a piece of fibro and starts playing with it. As a child I remember young kids,myself included, trying to build things with fibro pieces that were laying around the yard. We tried to hammer nails into it but it was too hard.

The fibres are so small they cannot be detected. They race through the air pipes to the lung where they attach themselves to the wall, the soft tissue of the inside of the chambers

Do not come in contact with old building materials or suspect products that may have asbestos or asbestos related products in them.

Heed the warnings and live

Many never know when they have breathed in the fibres

Have you Been in Contact with It?

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No Country is Safe

Every place was a target for Asbestos Producers

The problem with humans is that once someone thinks something is a good idea the pack race in and adopt it. There is little to no thought about the long term harm it may do as long as it has short term benefits and there is money to be made,

People in business are hungry for money and they don't really care about consequences when dollar signs are before their eyes. Well, we will be paying a heavy price for this type of behaviour.

An environmental working group published these figures on Americans and asbestos

"Ten thousand Americans die each year -- a rate approaching 30 deaths per day -- from diseases caused by asbestos, according to a detailed analysis of government mortality records and epidemiological studies by the EWG Action Fund. Asbestos kills thousands more people than skin cancer each year, and nearly the number that are slain in assaults with firearms. The suite of diseases linked to asbestos exposure overwhelmingly affect older men."

On its use in Australia

"Asbestos was often sprayed onto ceilings and walls for a variety of purposes, i.e. decorative, etc. It was also used as a form of insulation around the pipes behind radiators or wood-burning stoves. Asbestos was also used in Vinyl floor tiles and their backings, roofing, eaves, shingles, some plaster and paint. Many routine repairs, renovation and maintenance activities - even putting in a new heating system - can disrupt asbestos, releasing millions of fibres into your home, school or office."

Who is Most Likely to Get the Disease

Still images from Dreamstime - click here

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© 2011 norma-holt

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    • TheBaseballCoach profile image

      TheBaseballCoach 5 years ago

      Abspestos is a horribly dangerous substance. I was exposed when serving aboard ship in the U.S. Navy but to date have had no ill effects.