Asbestos Related Illnesses
The light, fine, and virtually indestructible fibres wreck havoc on the human body. Free asbestos fibres in the air are easily inhaled into the lungs, and are quite difficult to expel. The lungs try to repair the tiny irritations, which can result in scarring. Scarred lung tissue cannot readily absorb oxygen from the air or easily pass back carbon dioxide. As a result of this process, asbestosis can develop, and may even turn into cancer.
Asbestos exposure can also cause cancer, such as mesothelioma and lung cancer, and has been linked to gastrointestinal and colon cancer, as well as a slew of other cancers. Mesothelioma most commonly affects of the lining of the lungs, known as pleural mesothelioma. This cancer can also affect the abdominal cavity (peritoneal), the lining of the heart (pericardial), and in very rare cases, the testes.
Some of the highest incidences of mesothelioma have not been from adults who worked with asbestos, but among their children. Children are more susceptible to its effects than adults and were often exposed to asbestos since it was carried home on parents' work clothes. This is why there is so much concern about asbestos-containing materials (ACM) in school buildings. Many institutions of higher learning have published surveys of ACM in their buildings, which include plans to manage and prevent further exposure, plans to remove it, and programs to educate local populations about the dangers of disturbing ACM. Some universities even maintain their own accredited asbestos testing labs and abatement crews. If you are at risk for these illnesses because high levels of asbestos exposure, have regular medical checkups.
If you were employed in NSW, you can contact the Workers’ Compensation Dust Diseases Board of NSW (known as the DDB) and ask to be screened. Phone (Toll free) 1800 550 027.
- Your local medical practitioner
- Your local council. Enquiries or complaints regarding removal or disposal of asbestos in your area.
- Contact Department of Human Services (Environmental Health Unit) to obtain copy of the booklet, “Asbestos in the home”. Tel. (03) 9637 4156
- WorkCover NSW – For information on asbestos in the workplace and licensed asbestos removals. Tel. 13 10 50. www.workcover.nsw.gov.au
- NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change (DECC) for information. Tel. 02 9995 5000. www.environment.nsw.gov.au
- Environment Protection Authority New South Wales – For enquiries about correct disposal of materials containing asbestos in New South Wales. Contact the Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia Inc. Free call 1800 006 196 www.adfa.org.au
- Go to the Think Asbestos website if you are planning to undertake home renovations. www.thinkasbestos.com.au
* HTS would always recommend using the services of a licensed Asbestos (friable and/or bonded) removal firm wherever asbestos is present.