Construction Workers and Asbestos Exposure
Asbestos has been used extensively in the construction industry throughout the world. In the UK this material was still being used up to 1999, while in other countries its use was discontinued decades earlier. The reason for no longer using asbestos for insulation, roofing, and other construction components is that inhaling its fibers can lead to health problems. These include the aggressive and most often deadly type of cancer called mesothelioma.
The UK has some of the highest rates of mesothelioma because of the extensive use of asbestos and the late discontinuance. The number of cases of this cancer has been rising for decades, as has the number of deaths caused by it. Each year for the last few years, more than 2,000 men have died from mesothelioma, many of them working in the construction industry.
Exposure to Asbestos
Asbestos is a natural mineral, mined for its usefulness as an insulator. It resists heat, fire, and electricity, and it is mostly chemically inert. For millennia people have mined this material to be used for many purposes, but with most applications going into construction materials, buildings, and ships.
Contained asbestos is not a problem, but when it is cut, torn, or otherwise disrupted, fibers get into the air. When you breathe in these fibers they can lodge in the lungs and cause irritation, damage, and illness. Construction workers are at risk of being exposed to these fibers in the work they do every day. The biggest risks come during demolition or renovation of buildings that contain asbestos.
Illnesses Caused by Asbestos
Asbestos exposure is a major risk for construction workers. Inhaling fibers of the mineral put these workers at risk for a number of serious health concerns. One of these is asbestosis, which is the formation of scar tissue in the lungs. It does not always lead to death, but the symptoms can be debilitating. Pleural thickening is another potential health problem. The pleura is the tissue that lines the lungs and asbestos can cause it to thicken. This makes breathing difficult.
Exposure to asbestos fibers can also lead to fatal types of cancer. Asbestos-related lung cancer and mesothelioma are both connected to asbestos and both are most often fatal. The longer a worker is exposed to asbestos, the greater the frequency of exposure, and the greater the amount of asbestos inhaled, the greater the risk for developing one of these conditions.
The Problem with Mesothelioma
Any illness caused by asbestos has the potential to be debilitating or fatal, but mesothelioma is particularly devastating. It takes years for the cancer to be diagnosed because symptoms are not always severe until the late stages and they resemble those of other conditions. By the time a construction worker gets a diagnosis of mesothelioma it is typically too late for treatments to cure it.
The biggest occupational hazard for construction workers in the UK is exposure to asbestos. Many construction workers who developed fatal and debilitating lung conditions from this exposure were not told by their employers that they were at risk. Many are seeking compensation through asbestos
from The UK Construction Blog http://ukconstructionblog.co.uk/2016/09/05/construction-workers-and-asbestos-exposure/