Archive for November 30th, 2010
Asbestos continues to cause untold damage in the construction industry. Ian Rippin, commercial director of the National Laboratory Service (NLS), explains what it is, what it does and how to test for its presence
WHEN asbestos is damaged fine fibres become airborne and can be inhaled which can penetrate the lung tissue and trigger an inflammatory reaction. The body registers the problem and white blood cells are sent to engulf and attack the fibres. However, the fibres usually destroy the blood cells, causing fibrosis – irreversible scarring of the lungs.
Popular in the late 1800s, during the time of the Industrial Revolution, asbestos was used routinely as insulation for steam pipes, turbines, boilers, kilns, ovens and other high-temperature products. Previous observations of the health risks were forgotten or ignored at that time.
The first diagnosis of asbestosis was made in 1924 following the death of a woman aged thirty-three, after twenty years of working with the material. As a result of the diagnosis, a study was commissioned on asbestos workers in England, revealing twenty-five percent suffered from an asbestos-related lung disease. Laws were passed in 1931 to increase ventilation and to make asbestosis a recognised work- related disease.