In the early 1900ís medical practitioners began to raise concerns that exposure to asbestos was causing deaths of asbestos workers through
respiratory diseases and by the 1930ís there was a substantial accumulation of scientific knowledge confirming that occupational exposure
to asbestos caused asbestosis.
When asbestos is disturbed it forms a dust of tiny fibres, that breathed in are small enough to travel deep into the body where
they pierce the lining of the lungs.
We have no natural defence against particles this size this deep within the lungs. As asbestos fibres are embedded in the lining,
they remain in the body for life.
Diseases caused by the inhalation or ingestion of these asbestos particles include;
- pleural plaques
- lung cancer
- and mesothelioma
The dangers of asbestos were not always fully understood so that most in our contemporary community have had some exposure to asbestos fibres.
For most people the risk of developing an asbestos related condition is small, however
people have contracted asbestos related disease after only one brief but unexpected exposure.
Others have contracted an asbestos related disease 30 years after seemingly harmless activities of home renovations,
holiday labouring or even just washing asbestos contaminated clothes.
If the risk is small, it is still true that over 2500 people are diagnosed with asbestos related diseases in Australia each year
and the number is rising.
The latency characteristic of asbestos related disease ensures it will
be a health risk for years to come.