Asbestos was officially banned in the UK in 1999, but it still remains a serious risk to our health. As a building material used for roofing, insulation and flooring asbestos is often present in older buildings and warehouses. If asbestos is exposed and small fibres are inhaled, they can remain in your lungs for a long period of time and can cause scarring and inflammation. This can lead to medical conditions, including asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.
It is often difficult to identify whether a business or place of work is at risk of asbestos as symptoms of asbestos-related illnesses often do not manifest for several years, or even decades. This is why it is important for UK businesses to seek the help of a registered OSHCR consultant who specialises in asbestos in order to protect employees from potentially life threatening conditions.
Here are 5 warning signs that you may be showing signs of an asbestos-related disease:
1 Shortness of Breath
If you have inhaled asbestos fibres, they can cause scar tissue to form in your lungs which is known as asbestosis. This scar tissue can make it difficult to breathe and shortness of breath can be one of the first signs of an asbestos related illness.
2 Swollen Fingertips
A tell-tale sign of asbestosis is swollen fingertips, in around half of cases. Also known as clubbing, swelling in the tips of the fingers, when the fingertips appear broader and rounder, is a common symptom of this type of asbestos-related condition.
Extreme tiredness can be a sign of an asbestos-related condition and when combined with other common symptoms, such as shortness of breath and swollen fingertips, can be an indication of an asbestos related illness, such as mesothelioma or lung cancer.
Wheezing is caused when there is inflammation present in the lungs and often causes a whistling sound, especially when taking a deep breath. In asbestos related conditions, for those who don’t smoke, wheezing can be a cause for concern and may indicate that you have been exposed to asbestos.
5 Persistent Dry Cough
As the effects of asbestos can remain undetectable for many years after exposure, a persistent cough can be an indication of a possible asbestos-related condition. Even 40 years after initial contact, patients can develop a persistent cough due to scar tissue forming in the lungs over time.
In the UK, the risk to roofing contractors and all types of building and construction companies, tradespeople and other construction workers remains real.
To find out more about roofing-related asbestos exposure risks, hoe to spot them, avoid them and what to do if you come across asbestos, read Roofing Today’s March edition: Reducing the Risks from Asbestos in the Roofing Industry pp10-11.