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So What’s the Problem With Asbestos

The main issue with asbestos is when it becomes airborne. In its solid form, its poses little to no harm

Our body has many defences to deal with asbestos, at the back of the throat we have phlegm/mucus, which catches dust and causes us to cough it up. Asbestos fibres, however, are too small and can bypass this.

The ancillary escalator is hairs that work upwards in the throat, which are designed to catch fibres and bring them into the mucus and cause coughing, however, the fibres are even small enough to bypass these.

Once in the lung, the most damage is caused in the alveoli where main gas exchange happens.

Damage will not happen overnight but instead over a course of months and years.

If permanent damage happens your quality of life will reduce significantly.

Looking at the close-up image of an asbestos participle we can see extruding parts of the asbestos, the central blob is a macrophage (white blood cell), here it’s the white blood cell actually doing the damage. They can only destroy things by completely engulfing them and using acids and enzymes to break them down.

The white blood cell grows along the asbestos fibre, however, it leaves the ends open meaning all the acids and enzymes leak outside of the white blood cell coming into contact with the lung causing lung cancer and mesothelioma. It also causes movement of the fibre causing scratching of the lung leading to asbestosis.