Asbestos and Cancer – Part II

We have already discussed what is asbestos and how exposure to the mineral can lead to cancer and a variety of ailments of serious nature. Asbestos a mineral that exists in the form of fibers penetrates deep into the lungs and continues to stick for years and years at a stretch. In this article we discuss a few points of caution that can be taken to avoid exposure.

As discussed earlier exposure to asbestos may occur in many forms – during mining, while processing it, manufacturing products from asbestos, demolishing or removing older buildings, contaminated food and water, family members of asbestos workers. Some of the common locations where a person is likely to be exposed to asbestos are:

  • Asbestos exposure may occur at place of occupation;
  • By use of products cement, paint, dry wall etc.;
  • At job areas like ship yards, power plants, metal works, schools, oil refineries etc.;
  • While working with armed forces in battle ships, aircraft carriers, cruisers, auxiliary vehicles, submarines and destroyers;
  • Naturally occurring asbestos in the environment

Exposure to asbestos can be primary and/or secondary. As asbestos keeps accumulating in the lungs it leads to multiple health problems like Lung Cancer, Mesothelioma, and Ovraian Cancer, Cancer of the Larynx, Asbestosis and a host of lung diseases.  The effects of exposure may appear anywhere after 10 years from cessation of exposure.

Tips for Reducing Exposure

Here are a few tips that you can follow in order to reduce exposure to asbestos. These tips can be useful not only for reducing primary exposure but also secondary exposure.

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  • In case you are exposed to asbestos avoid smoking. Combination of both factors only increases the chances of developing lung cancer;
  • Maintain separate work clothes and other clothes. Avoid carrying your work clothes back home even if it means carrying an extra pair to work into which you can change when your work finishes;
  • Try to take a shower before coming back home from work that involves handling asbestos;
  • Opt for regular check -ups;
  • Opt for an active lifestyle that involves regular exercise;
  • Early detection is a key to improving chances of survival and a disease can be detected early by regular screening;
  • While at work take breaks and get some fresh air;
  • Take extra efforts to reduce, abate exposure of young children to asbestos.

The ideal situation would be to completely eliminate asbestos from our work environments and home. There are no ways for undoing the harm that asbestos may cause. The most terrible fact is that in developing countries there is no law that protects those who have suffered from exposure to asbestos. The employers say that it is a professional hazard that the employees take and the employees say they do not have a choice but to make a living from this toxic mineral.

Cancer and Asbestos

Warning Sign At A Site

Time and again the matter has come up for consideration before various authorities in different countries. Completely banned in developed countries, the developing countries are still to break away from this menace. Today technology has made life much easy. The workers are given very good opportunity to protect themselves from these hazards. They are given protective gears and are made to expose as less as possible to this chemical. However, there are still many cases of how people are getting lung cancer due to exposure to the asbestos.

It is always best to remember that it is a harmful mineral and best when avoided. If exposure to asbestos cannot be abated following the above tips can help reduce the harmful effects of it.

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  • Ujlaminhas
  • I have a doctorate in Biotechnology from Chandigarh, have worked in PGI and AIIMS and now work at ACU.