The Problem with Asbestos

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Understanding the Health Risks of Asbestos

This document explores the dangers posed by asbestos, particularly when it becomes airborne, and its impact on lung health.

Asbestos: Harmless in Solid Form, Dangerous When Airborne

Asbestos, in its solid state, generally poses little to no harm. However, when it becomes airborne, its microscopic fibres pose a significant health risk.

Body's Defences Against Asbestos

The body's natural defences, such as phlegm in the throat and the ancillary escalator (throat hairs), aim to trap and expel foreign particles. But, the minuscule size of asbestos fibres allows them to bypass these defences and reach the lungs.

Damages in the Lungs

Once in the lungs, asbestos fibres primarily damage the alveoli, the site of gas exchange. This damage is gradual, accumulating over months and years, leading to significant health issues.

Microscopic View of Asbestos and White Blood Cells

An examination of asbestos particles reveals how they interact with macrophages (white blood cells). The fibres are too long for the macrophages to engulf completely, causing the release of harmful acids and enzymes that damage lung tissue. This process can lead to lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis due to the fibre movement scratching the lung tissue.

This information is provided to raise awareness about the health risks associated with asbestos, especially when airborne, and the importance of taking precautions to mitigate exposure.