First Aid

The Health Hazards of Asbestos

An old man is coughing as the doctor examines him
Written by Nancy

Asbestos is a naturally occurring material in the environment that is used extensively in commercial and industrial applications. It is known to have adverse effects on the health of humans. The intensity and duration of exposure to asbestos going up can range from shortness of breath to lethal complications such as cancer.

Workers in the labor industry are commonly exposed to and use materials containing asbestos. These include mechanics, construction workers, plumbers, marina workers, insulation, and heating workers, to name a few. Everyone is bound to be exposed to it, but it takes prolonged contact to be harmful. With all the harm asbestos can cause, workers that deal with it require workplace safety training. The following can occur upon exposure to Asbestos:


Prolonged exposure to asbestosis causes asbestosis. A scar-like tissue begins to form up in the lungs, and the elasticity of the lungs decreases. Breathing in and out becomes more and more difficult.

Asbestosis requires very long exposures, and symptoms tend to pop up very late. But exposure to dust and other substances can also affect the rate of progression for this condition.

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the world. It can happen to people who never smoke, but it’s most common in those who do. Those who smoke and have exposure to asbestos can run into serious complications. Together, they can accelerate the degradation of the lungs. Shortness of breath, weight loss, and chest pain are the first symptoms, which occur very late.

Asbestos carried on clothes and equipment can also affect those that come into contact with those. There have been cases of household members of people exposed to asbestos getting lung cancer as well.


Mesothelioma is a rare but lethal form of cancer, and the usual suspects are asbestos workers. Cancer cells start to emerge in the cavities of the heart, lungs, and abdomen. It shares a similarity with lung cancer as the rate and extent of exposure affect the victim’s cancer intensity. If detected early, it’s preventable. Symptoms include chest and shoulder pain, with extreme cases leading to weight loss and fevers.

Effects on Pleural Region

Inhalation of asbestos can cause four types of non-cancerous abnormalities in the chest cavity lining, also known as the pleura. These are:

  • Deposits of collagen
  • Thickening and fibrosis of the pleura
  • Folded lung or rounded atelectasis (a condition that makes a portion of the lung airless).

If your occupation involves the use of asbestos, you might require occupational first aid courses and workplace safety training for your employees. Metro Safety Training providess emergency first aid and work safety training to ensure your workers can work safely and efficiently. Call us today.

About the author


I’m Nancy and no, I didn’t always look like I do in that picture on the right. My foray into health and fitness began as a brace-faced, 16 year-old who was too afraid to wear a two-piece at the beach because I felt my body paled in comparison to my much more toned friends.

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