More often than not, asbestos is often thought of as a thing of the past. And while it has been banned in Australia since 2003, the reality is that asbestos is still found in many buildings and products. Asbestos was a heavily used material for insulation products, tiling, fencing, guttering, and more.
Since asbestos is invisible to the naked eye, it's possible to be unaware of its existence unless you conduct an asbestos check. If you think you have been exposed to asbestos, it's best to consult with a doctor who may refer you for a scan of your chest to diagnose any signs of asbestos exposure. Read on to find out tips about how the ways you can protect yourself and set yourself up for an early diagnosis.
What if I have been exposed to asbestos but don't show any symptoms yet?
Asbestos exposure causes a number of serious diseases, such as lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis. Asbestos fibres settle into the lung tissue or linings of organs. Asbestos-related illnesses have a long latency period, meaning they do not show symptoms immediately. These illnesses develop slowly over a long period of time after exposure, taking anywhere from 10 to 50 years before health problems become apparent.
It is then important to recognise common symptoms associated with asbestos-related illnesses. Here are some of them:
- Chest pain
- Persistent cough
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of appetite
- Pains in the chest
Do note that these symptoms are vague and may be thought of as symptoms of a more common illness, like the flu. Keep in mind any potential exposures you may have experienced and monitor these symptoms to determine if you are affected as an earlier diagnosis is better.
What if I have been exposed to asbestos and have symptoms?
Once you start to exhibit symptoms, go immediately to an asbestos-related disease specialist. Asbestos-related disease specialists can determine if your symptoms are indeed related to an asbestos-related illness or a more common illness. Should you not find an asbestos-related disease specialist in your area, you can also consult a thoracic oncologist. Thoracic oncologists are trained to identify chest cancers and are your best option if an asbestos-related disease specialist isn't available.
If the exposure occurred at your work surroundings, ensure an incident report is prepared by you and your employer. Keep a copy of this incident report. It is your employer's responsibility to cover any out-of-pocket expenses you incur relating to your asbestos exposure. You can also opt to report your exposure to WorkSafe, which can be done anonymously. Moreover, you can register your exposure on the National Asbestos Exposure Register.
Preventing asbestos exposure
If you work in trades, like plumbing or carpentry, you are also at risk of asbestos exposure. Make it a point to ask a site manager or homeowner if they've had an asbestos check before starting work on a property, especially if it's old.
Should you suspect the presence of asbestos in your home or workplace, the NATA accredited team at Identifibre can help you. We are certified to do asbestos sampling and provide effective asbestos management plan to ensure that your home and your family's health is safe. For enquiries, please call us at (03) 9563 2957 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.