The Asbestos Diseases Society of South Australia

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Information: Why is Asbestos Dangerous?

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; 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.