Though asbestos has been regulated by law over the years, it still gets used in many industries in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Asbestos is a fibrous substance known for its heat-resistant properties, which makes it a preferred material for building. However, asbestos has been linked to mesothelioma and other lung diseases from inhaling it.
Overview of asbestos
The U.S. Department of Health classifies asbestos as a carcinogen, or a cancer-causing agent. If asbestos gets inhaled, it may get trapped in the lining of the lungs and scar tissue, which could cause several fatal and non-cancerous conditions. Mesothelioma is a rare disease that occurs from asbestos exposure and affects the lung, heart or stomach lining. Another disease caused by long-term exposure to asbestos is asbestosis, which causes chronic breathing issues.
Symptoms after exposure
While short-term or one-off exposure rarely causes long-term issues, no amount of exposure has been deemed safe. Exposure is at a greater risk when working in older homes or from secondary exposure from asbestos on clothing. Studies show that the chance of developing an asbestos-related disease increases up to 90% in smokers.
The signs of asbestos exposure may not be noticed immediately because of the latency period. Some patients do not show mesothelioma or asbestosis symptoms until 10 to 50 years after asbestos exposure.
Many symptoms of asbestos-related diseases overlap, which include trouble breathing, coughing, chest tightness and weight loss from losing appetite. When asbestos disease spreads to other body parts outside the lungs, it may cause bowel obstructions, hernias and clubbed fingers.
People who have been exposed to asbestos for more than 10 years should get tested every three to five years according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. Employees who think they are being exposed to asbestos can contact OSHA to examine the workplace.