Asbestos is a dangerous material once used in the construction of homes, particularly on the interior. However it was also used on the outside of houses in the form of asbestos shingles and asbestos siding, which is also dangerous. These materials can cause specific health problems and pose a risk to anyone exposed.
Asbestos is created using bundles of small fibers and, until the 1970s, was commonly used in parts of the United States. Asbestos siding and shingles were common on the outside of homes because of the heat and fire resistance asbestos provided. The material kept heat inside the house and helped prevent an interior fire from spreading. The only way to identify asbestos siding from another type of siding is by closely examining the fibers under a specific microscope.
Asbestos causes problems when it's inhaled into the lungs, which means siding does not cause the greatest danger. Asbestos insulation is typically viewed as the greatest danger to health because the asbestos fibers become stuck in the throat and lungs, leading to problems such as cancer. However, living around asbestos siding for an extended period of time can result in inhalation and the same type of health conditions.
Asbestosis is a condition similar to cancer, though not considered to be a cancer. Asbestosis occurs when large amounts of asbestos are inhaled into the lungs and the fibers attach to the sides of the lungs. This causes the fibers to break and damage the lungs, which leads to small scars. If you smoke, your chances of developing asbestosis grows higher and those who inhale asbestos for years are more likely to develop the condition.
The inhalation and handling of asbestos siding can lead to certain types of cancers, including mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a cancer found in the chest cavity and the lining of the chest. It comes from inhaling asbestos fibers. Gastrointestinal cancers are also possible, especially if you handle and touch the asbestos siding. The fibers stick to your hands and you late inhale them. Colon, esophagus and stomach cancer are all possible from asbestos.
Fibers from asbestos siding generally only appear when the siding is altered in some way. Sawing the siding, cutting it or drilling holes in it can release the fibers and make it possible for you to inhale them. The best way to prevent this from occurring is by leaving the asbestos siding as it is. If you're planning to replace the siding, wear a mask and gloves or hire a professional to remove it. The only way to lessen the dangers of asbestos siding is by using the proper care.
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