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Asbestos Health Effects Beyond Lung Disease

Updated: Oct 18, 2023


Once hailed as a miracle material asbestos was used wide and far in many industries around the globe. It’s incredible fire-resistant and insulating properties saw it quickly transformed into many uses until its deadly properties were revealed. Commonly recognised as a silent health hazard due to its association with lung diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma, today however additional consequences of exposure have now been noted. Asbestos Removals Marlborough looks at the other health concerns being researched in regard to this deadly fibre.


Other Health Consequences: Beyond the Lungs


Gastrointestinal Cancers

It is understood that asbestos fibers can lodge in the gastrointestinal tract when ingested through contaminated water or food. Recent studies suggest a link between asbestos exposure and oesophagus, stomach, colon, and even rectum cancers. The reason behind this association is still under investigation by many professionals world-wide, but the research does unscored the importance of addressing all potential exposures and their possible causes.


Ovarian Cancer

Emerging evidence has also raised concerns about asbestos exposure contributing to ovarian cancer. The exact biological means of how asbestos can reach the ovaries remain intricate and are still under debate by experts. However, some small studies have noted the presence of asbestos fibers in ovarian tissues, particularly in women (or those who had partners) who worked closely with asbestos. Some experts suggest this could be due to the fibres travelling through the reproductive tract via the bloodstream or the lymphatic system. This connection reinforces the need for more research and understanding of how asbestos exposure can impact women's health.


Laryngeal and Pharyngeal Cancers

While most research has focused on lung cancers, there is growing concern of asbestos's potential role in laryngeal and pharyngeal cancers to those who have been exposed to this toxic material. Occupations known for asbestos exposure have been linked to higher laryngeal and pharyngeal cancers, indicating the relationship between asbestos fibers and the after-effects exposure can cause to the human body.


Autoimmune Disorders

Asbestos's influence on the immune system has intrigued researchers, with evidence suggesting that chronic exposure could trigger autoimmune responses. Disorders such as systemic sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis may be influenced by asbestos exposure, a connection that warrants further investigation to understand how this toxic fibre affects the human body. In the USA, a team of Drs has been researching the effects in a small town, Libby, Montana, known for vermiculite mines contaminated with asbestos. They have been studying the unique incidents of autoimmune conditions, including collagen thickening of the serum-producing membranes around the lungs. This type of research indicates the consequences asbestos exposure can cause on other systems in the human body.


Cardiovascular Effects

Recent studies have also explored the link between asbestos exposure and cardiovascular problems. Some research suggest that inflammation triggered by asbestos fibers could contribute to heart-related issues and disease. Studies have indicated that asbestos exposure can significantly increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and complications.


Neurological Effects of Exposure

Asbestos's potential to affect the nervous system has also begun to receive attention in the study of exposure. Research has indicated a possible association between asbestos exposure and neurological conditions such as cognitive decline, memory impairment, and neurodegenerative diseases. These findings call for a more of an understanding of asbestos's repercussions particularly on the well-being and health of those who encounter this toxic fibre.


Asbestos Awareness

The study of the lesser-known health effects of asbestos exposure showcases the need for a more comprehensive understanding of the implication’s exposure can cause. Individuals and industries must move beyond the focus on lung health and adopt a broader understanding of the risks posed by asbestos-containing materials. Education and awareness in commercial and residential settings are essential to safeguard public health.


Promoting Safety to Minimising Risk


Asbestos Assessment

When dealing with potential asbestos exposure, conducting thorough assessments, and testing is vital to identify all possible sources. This includes evaluating historical exposure, inspecting buildings for asbestos-containing materials, and understanding the health implications that can affect workers and the wider community.


Expert Handling and Removal

If asbestos-containing materials are identified, adhering to rules, regulations, and safety protocols during removal is vital. Engaging licensed professionals with expertise in asbestos removal ensures the process is conducted safely and effectively.


Medical Monitoring & Understanding

Individuals with a history of asbestos exposure should consider regular medical check-ups to monitor potential health effects, even in low-risk situations. Early detection and treatment can be vital in managing and treating emerging health concerns.


Education Around Asbestos & The Dangers

Education and awareness about asbestos's diverse health effects are paramount to protecting unsuspecting businesses and homeowners. This includes educating professionals and the general public about the risks, proper handling procedures, and available resources for safe removal and disposal.


Asbestos can wreak havoc on human health, and it is clear from studies that this now extends far beyond well-known lung diseases. The mounting evidence connecting asbestos exposure to gastrointestinal cancers, ovarian cancer, autoimmune disorders, cardiovascular effects, and even neurological impacts underscores the importance of awareness and action.


Asbestos Removals Marlborough strongly advocates for increasing regulations and education around this critical topic to protect the community and workers from health complications later in life. By shedding light on these lesser-known health effects, we take a vital step toward a safer and healthier future for New Zealand.




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