What is Asbestos?
Asbestos, which is a mineral fiber, is found in soils and rocks. Asbestos fibers are flexible and soft yet resistant to heat, electricity, and corrosion. These qualities make the mineral useful. Due to its effectiveness, it has long been used in some industries and construction. But, long exposure to it can cause some serious health problems in you. Since asbestos can enter into the body through breathing, and long exposure can cause cancer and other diseases, OSHA regulates Asbestos tests for some groups to make sure they are safe.
How is Asbestos used?
Asbestos has been commercially used in the USA since the late 1800s. They can be used in plastic, cement, paper, cloth to make them stronger. Asbestos is also used widely to make textiles, automotive parts, and construction materials
Other items that may contain asbestos include:
- Siding on houses
- Insulation in attics and walls
- Vinyl tiles that are used for floors
Various US regulations and widespread public concerns over health issues of asbestos led to a significant annual drop in the use of asbestos in this country.
Why Is Asbestos Hazardous?
By repairing, building or home maintenance, demolition work, the spread of materials containing asbestos during product use, etc. asbestos fibers could be released into the air. Inhalation of asbestos fibers causes these dangerous compounds to enter the body. Asbestos fibers may be removed if they become trapped in the throat or nose’s mucous entrance, but if swallowed, they may enter the lower respiratory tract and gastrointestinal tract. The fibers can cause health problems once they are trapped in the body.
Health Effects From Exposure to Asbestos
Scientific studies prove that exposure to asbestos is associated with several diseases, including cancers. Mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer are the three primary diseases associated with asbestos exposure.
Other asbestos-related diseases include:
- Pleural effusions
- Pleural plaques
- Diffuse pleural thickening
- COPD, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Who is at most risk from Asbestos-related disease?
If at work, you’ve been exposed to asbestos for a long time, you are at a higher risk of damage to your lungs.
People who work in the following areas are at greater risk:
- Electricity Generation
- Heavy Industry
- Military Service
- Asbestos miners
- Machine Operators
If you work or have worked in factories that made asbestos products, railway engineering, and shipbuilding, you are also at higher risk. You might also be at risk if you have lived with a worker who was exposed to asbestos.
Can you Avoid Being Exposed to Asbestos?
Asbestos is a really common material that everyone has been exposed to at some point. It is in the soil, water, and air. But it’s unlikely to make you sick if you have been exposed to such low levels. So it’s not possible to avoid being exposed to Asbestos. However, we can control the amount of asbestos that we are exposed to.
What are the factors that develop the risk of Asbestos-related diseases?
The risk of asbestos depends on the following factors:
- Duration of exposure
- Chemical makeup, size, and shape of the asbestos fibers
- Dose (the amount of asbestos that the person has been exposed to)
- Exposure source
- Pre-existing lung diseases, smoking, and individual risk factors
- Genetic factors
How to identify Products that include Asbestos?
If there is no manufacturer’s label on a product, sending a sample to a lab for testing is the only way to detect asbestos in a material. Microscopic asbestos fibers cannot be seen, tasted, or smelled. Keep in mind that exposure to asbestos won’t cause any immediate symptoms. You can’t determine if a product contains asbestos just by looking at it; it must be clearly marked.
What are Tips for Handling Asbestos safely?
Sometimes it is essential to remove a material that contains asbestos, and sometimes the safest way is to leave the material to encapsulate with sealant or undisturbed. It is always safest to leave the removal or evaluation of asbestos to certified asbestos abatement professionals.
Asbestos physical: Tests for Asbestos exposure
Asbestos exam involves a series of tests and examinations performed to check the health of the respiratory system of workers exposed to asbestos.
Asbestos medical exams include:
- Pulmonary function test
- Chest X-ray
- OSHA respiratory medical questionnaire,
- Work, and medical history review,
- Other lab tests
A licensed physician or supervisor must perform the OSHA Asbestos physical. The test must be conducted annually except for the chest x-ray. The chest x-ray needs to be conducted every five years within the first ten years of exposure.
How is the Asbestos medical check done?
To perform asbestos testing, your work and medical records will first be reviewed. Then a comprehensive examination is performed, just like in an annual physical examination. In some situations, you may have to do a chest X-ray to identify some abnormalities such as precancerous lesions, cancerous masses, and obstructions. These abnormalities may be present, but you have no symptoms. Therefore, with chest X-rays, these abnormalities are identified earlier, and treatment begins faster. Tests such as pulmonary function testing can help diagnose inflammation or infection, which can be an early sign of asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other diseases.
Which employees need to undergo a medical examination for Asbestos?
All workers exposed to asbestos at concentrations above the Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) or Excursion Limit (EL) should do the asbestos check.
What are the benefits of the exam?
Performing asbestos medical check using accurate diagnostic technologies will help your physician monitor your lung changes annually and detect abnormalities earlier.
Asbestos physical near me
If you are looking for asbestos physical exam locations, you can go to the SNOHC. The Southern Nevada Occupational Health Center in Las Vegas offers a variety of services to strengthen the safety and health of people in different occupations. Performing this exam is also part of the center’s services. You can learn more about other services of SNOHC by using the menu at the top of the page.
Frequently Asked Questions about Asbestos Physical
Which employees need to undergo a medical examination for Asbestos?
If you’ve been exposed to asbestos for a long time, you are at a higher risk of damage to your lungs.
What is an asbestos physical?
Asbestos physical involves a series of tests and examinations performed to check the health of the respiratory system of workers exposed to asbestos.
How often is a follow-up medical surveillance exam conducted for asbestos?
The asbestos physical exam is performed annually except for chest x-rays