When you hear someone talk about asbestos, you probably immediately think about the fibrous materials that are found in roofing materials or insulation. You may have learned about the dangers of asbestos in the past but not realized that you had actually been exposed. If you were exposed, you could develop mesothelioma or asbestosis, both of which can affect your health negatively and potentially become life-threatening.
Asbestos is not dangerous in every single product where it is found. Just because you see something with asbestos doesn’t mean that you are at risk of developing mesothelioma. In fact, mesothelioma can only develop if you are exposed to asbestos fibers that you breathe into the lungs. The fibers burrow into the lining of the lungs and lead to scarring. The scarring makes it more difficult to breathe and eventually leads to cancer.
There are six kinds of asbestos in the United States. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines them as white asbestos, brown asbestos, tremolite, anthophyllite, actinolite and blue asbestos. Serpentine asbestos is a larger classification identifying those with curly fibers. Amphibole asbestos has needle-like fibers. Chrysotile, or white asbestos, is the only type with curly fibers.
If you have been exposed to any of these kinds of asbestos, it is important to notify your doctor and to have regular checkups. It’s a wise decision to keep an eye on your health because catching the onset of mesothelioma or asbestosis could give you a better prognosis. These diseases are preventable, but once you’re exposed, the best treatment is careful watching with your doctor’s help.