Asbestos Exposure: Symptoms, Actions, Occupations & More

While most people do not develop life-threatening lung disease from inhaling asbestos once or twice, long-term exposure can lead to some severe illnesses. With increased focus on safety and the wellbeing of all workers in the UK, there has been a drive for asbestos awareness in recent years, as asbestos still lurks in many buildings across the country.

However, even with awareness and education becoming more common, asbestos exposure is still a reality and should be carefully navigated. In this post, we explore asbestos exposure, its symptoms, and the professions most at risk of coming into contact with asbestos.

How does asbestos exposure happen?

There are a few ways in which asbestos can enter your body. The primary route of entry is through inhalation of asbestos fibres in the air. You can also be dermally exposed, where fibres lodge in the skin. Lastly, asbestos can enter the body through ingestion.

Asbestos was used in thousands of products, from roofing panels to cement pipes and even car gaskets. Before it had been discovered that asbestos could cause severe illness, it was a commonly used material because it was cheap, strong, and had excellent heat and sound insulation properties. Unfortunately, the thin fibrous crystals, made up of microscopic fibrils, can be released into the air through abrasion and other means. It has therefore become a hazardous substance.

Note: If you want to know more, here are a few facts about asbestos.

Asbestos exposure symptoms

If you have experienced prolonged exposure to asbestos, you may have developed asbestosis or lung cancer. However, if you are reading this post because you are concerned that you or your team may have been exposed or might be in the future, look out for these warning signs of asbestos poisoning:

  • shortness of breath
  • Swollen fingertips
  • Wheezing
  • Fatigue
  • Persistent dry cough

How to prevent exposure to asbestos

When preventing exposure to asbestos for yourself or your team, the first thing to do is ensure that everyone has been adequately trained in asbestos awareness. We offer three approved online training courses to ensure your team’s safety. Our course options include:

If one individual in your team has not been adequately trained, they can expose everyone else by disturbing asbestos materials. It is, therefore, crucial that everyone receives adequate training.

What professions are most at risk for asbestos exposure?

Of course, an IT specialist working in an office may not need to take an asbestos awareness training course. There are certain professions that have the potential to be regularly exposed to this hazardous material, while others are relatively safe.

The professions most at risk of exposure to asbestos include:

  • Construction workers
  • Shipyard workers
  • Firefighters
  • Industrial and power plant workers
  • Factory workers

These manual labour-related jobs generally have a much higher likelihood of working with asbestos than other professions. However, it is important to note that the current statistic of workers who have handled asbestos and developed a related disease is approximately 20%. With an increase in education and awareness, this percentage can be reduced drastically.