Today we welcome this guest blog post from Faith Franz, a writer for the Mesothelioma Center. Faith combines her interests in whole-body health and medical research to educate the mesothelioma community about the newest developments in cancer care …
Although asbestos has been banned for more than a decade, the United Kingdom has one of the world’s highest mesothelioma incidence rates. This cancer claimed the lives of 2,249 people in 2008 (the last year for which statistics were made available), a number that steadily climbed over the last decade. Most of these people were blue collar industrial workers who were occupationally exposed to asbestos.
Fortunately, mesothelioma awareness is also on the rise. Asbestos – the carcinogen that is responsible for nearly all cases of the cancer – was fully banned in the UK in 1999.
Workers who were already exposed now know to carefully monitor their health, while researchers and doctors are developing and practicing new treatments for those who are diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases.
Awareness campaigns have promoted prevention; the most effective strategy against asbestos-related diseases is avoiding the exposure in the first place. The Health and Safety Executive’s Hidden Killer campaign highlights this strategy and promotes free asbestos training to workers who may have to come into contact with the fibers.
Protecting your Health from Asbestos-Related Diseases
Since no new asbestos-containing materials are being produced, the biggest asbestos exposure threat is exposure in buildings constructed before the asbestos ban. Numerous products have the potential to contain asbestos, including:
Workers who repair, remove or replace these materials should handle them in accordance with asbestos management plans outlined in mandatory asbestos licensure classes. Respirators, gloves and other appropriate safety gear should be worn at all times.
In the event that a worker does inhale asbestos, certain health precautions should be taken. Asbestos exposure does not guarantee that a person will develop an asbestos-related disease, but prolonged exposure (as is common in the construction industry) does lead to an elevated risk for these conditions.
If asbestos has been inhaled, a doctor should be alerted to the exposure so that a disease screening schedule can be set up. Regular tests for mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer and various other conditions should be performed throughout the person’s life.
In the event that an illness develops, the screenings can help detect them before they have advanced to an untreatable stage.