Asbestos is often found in older buildings, but it is also in thousands of household items, including children’s toys. The side effects of asbestos exposure usually do not show symptoms until years after exposure; typically 20 to 30 years.
Asbestos exposure usually affects the lungs, but can affect other parts of the body. Below is a list of diseases and conditions, such as breathing problems, asbestosis and mesothelioma / cancer, associated with asbestos exposure. Although there is no cure for asbestos exposure side effects, there are treatments that can extend your life if the problem is caught early. Please contact your doctor if you suspect that you are suffering from any of the side effects of asbestos exposure.
Note: This article was not written by a doctor. Please contact your doctor if you are experiencing any of the following asbestos-related symptoms.
Asbestos Exposure Side Effects & Lungs:
Asbestosis: Asbestosis is scarring of the lungs. When asbestos fibers are inhaled they can get lodged in the lung tissue. Your immune system cannot get rid of them, but will keep trying. Eventually scar tissue is deposited. Scar tissue reduces the lungs’ ability to expand and contract, making it difficult to breathe and causing oxygen deprivation.
Asbestos Pleural Disease: Asbestos pleural disease is similar to asbestosis, but it affects the lining around the lungs, called the pleura, rather than the lung tissue itself. Scar tissue in the pleura also constricts movement of the lungs, reducing lung capacity.
Pleural Mesothelioma: Mesothelioma is the most common type of cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Pleural mesothelioma is cancer of the lining around the lungs. Find more information and support for this condition at mesothelioma.net.
Lung Cancer: Although mesothelioma is often confused with lung cancer, there is a distinct difference. Asbestosis exposure can cause cancer of the lung tissue itself, as well as the pleura.
Asbestos Exposure and Cancer
Mesothelioma: In addition to pleural mesothelioma, which affects the lining around the lungs, asbestos exposure can cause cancer in the lining around other organs, such as the abdominal organs and the heart. This lining is called the mesothelium. Peritoneal mesothelioma affects the abdomen and sometimes the testicles. Pericardial mesothelioma affects the heart. Mesothelioma is an extremely painful form of cancer.
Other Cancers: Asbestos exposure can also cause other types of cancer including larynx cancer and kidney cancer.
Asbestos Exposure and the Heart
Heart Failure: Asbestos exposure’s side effects on the lungs can lead to heart failure. As lung capacity is diminished, the heart works harder to try and deliver more oxygen to the rest of the body.
In pericardial mesothelioma, tumors form and fluid builds up in the lining around the heart causing irregular heartbeat, pain, and eventually heart failure.
Asbestos in Your Home
It is a common misconception that asbestos use has been banned. The Environmental Protections Agency (EPA) issued a rule in 1989 that would have banned and phased out asbestos, but the rule was overturned in 1991.
While it may not be possible to track down every item in your home that contains asbestos, you can find out if the building itself was constructed with materials containing asbestos. You should never try to remove asbestos from your home yourself. To protect your family from asbestos exposure, please read about Checking for Asbestos in Your Home.