One of the main reasons asbestos has been used over the years is due to its high flame resistance and ability to insulate. This caused asbestos to show up in the attics of homes all across the world. Asbestos was also using in roofing, siding, cement and in some clothing, such as aprons and gloves for welders. However, one of the most practical uses of asbestos was directly for fireproofing materials.
Many construction projects up until the 1970s likely went underway without the use of asbestos. Quite simply, it worked! Homes were thoroughly insulated and protected from fires. But at what cost?
While asbestos did all its manufacturers claimed it would do, the substance ended up doing a whole lot more than merely resisting heat and flame. It also made people sick. It made a lot of people sick.
Asbestos has caused many people to develop diseases and complications. Asbestosis is a condition that causes inflammation and scarring in the lungs. It can lead to breathing troubles and even heart problems. Pleural effusion can also result from asbestos exposure. Pleural effusion occurs when the area around the lungs fills with fluid. This fluid could be water, pus or blood.
Exposure to asbestos fireproofing materials during installation or removal has also been shown to cause various forms of cancer. The most common to appear in those exposed to asbestos is lung cancer, which makes sense considering the fibers are typically inhaled. Your risk of developing lung cancer due to asbestos exposure is increased if you are also a smoker. However, stomach cancer, intestinal cancer, colorectal cancer and esophageal cancer could also result.
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that causes tumors to grow in the membranes that surround the heart, lungs or abdomen. The presence of tumors causes the areas to fill with fluid, leading to the onslaught of symptoms. Symptoms vary depending on where the tumors grow. Unfortunately, the development of symptoms tends to occur in the more advanced stages of the disease, making successful treatment less likely.
Asbestos causes particularly vicious diseases and health problems that can’t be pinned on any other cause. Even though fireproofing materials containing asbestos did their job by keeping buildings safe from fire, the people inside were subjected to the toxic fibers that could one day cause cancer.
If you think the fireproofing materials in your building contain asbestos, do not try to remove it on your own. Call in a professional. He or she will either contain the asbestos and keep it stabilized or remove it using high safety standards.