Asbestos is a material used widely in the past in numerous industries including construction, manufacturing, building and electrical industries. It is composed of long, crystal fibres which are extremely strong and fire-resistant which made it a very useful product.
Asbestosis takes many years to develop after initial and prolonged exposure to it and many people put the subsequent symptoms of the illness down to other conditions and ageing. It is thought that a large number of cases go unreported, particularly in the early stages of the illness.
Asbestos does not cause damage to health if it remains undamaged. However once it becomes damaged or broken then it releases a fine dust made up of many fibres which is easily inhaled and which sticks to clothes, shoes, hair and skin. These fibres, once inhaled, cause irreparable damage to the lungs and can lead to asbestosis, mesothelioma and even lung cancer in the future.
Symptoms often take many years to develop; it can take from 15 to 40 years for symptoms to become apparent.
Asbestos use was strictly regulated in the 1970's although it had been realized that it was dangerous many years prior to this. In 1999 asbestos use was banned in the UK and all EU countries. Unfortunately, it is still used in many developing countries, so cases of asbestosis and mesothelioma will undoubetly rise in these parts of the world for many years into the future.
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