Asbestos – What is it?
Asbestos is a mineral, mined in for example South Africa, Australia, Canada, Turkey and still to this day in several other countries.
The types of asbestos are blue (crocidolite), brown (amosite) and white (chrysotile). While blue asbestos is generally considered the most toxic, no type of asbestos is safe.
It has been used in a variety of industries throughout the UK. Although no longer an available product, the importing of asbestos was not banned in the UK until 1999.
Types of Asbestos Related Diseases
Mesothelioma is a form of cancer of the pleura (lining) of the lung rather than the lung itself. A more rare form is peritoneal mesothelioma, which can affect the linings of the abdomen. Virtually all mesotheliomas are caused by exposure to asbestos. Tragically, even small amounts of exposure to asbestos can cause mesothelioma.
This is where the cancer is caused by factors in addition to asbestos exposure, for example smoking.
Asbestosis is a benign condition but is unpleasant and disabling, often requiring the sufferer to require daily amounts of oxygen. The term “asbestosis” was once used to describe any asbestos related disease, including malignant conditions. Unfortunately it is still sometimes wrongly used today.
Pleural Plaques and Thickening
These are benign conditions. Often referred to as “scarring” of the lining of the lung, they are generally regarded as a “signature” of asbestos exposure. Pleural Plaques do not usually cause significant symptoms whereas Thickening is greater in volume and can cause some disability and breathlessness.