- Asbestos is a risk to health when disturbed or damaged.
- Inhaling asbestos fibres into the lungs can cause fatal respiratory disease.
- There is no safe level of asbestos exposure.
- ALL asbestos fibres pose a health risk (there’s a myth that chrysotile fibres (white asbestos) are not dangerous).
At least three major fatal diseases are recognised as being contracted from asbestos exposure, these are:
This disease is referred to as a fibrosis, in which the fibres produce a scarring of the lung tissue due to the continual abrasion by the fibres as the lungs contract and expand.
The cancer is identical in many respects to the cancer caused by smoking tobacco products. It appears in the upper ciliated airways as opposed to the alveoli mostly affected by asbestosis.
This disease is very specific to asbestos. It is normally a rare tumour of the pleural membrane surrounding the lungs or of the peritoneal cavity.
These three major fatal conditions are all notifiable diseases under Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR). All of them have a long induction period – possibly several decades.
Various other conditions which are recognised but are not so prevalent include:
- Pleural plaques
- Cancer of the larynx
- Asbestos warts and corns