“This material is a major hazard to health and no concentration of asbestos dust may be presumed safe.” (Source: Lancet, March 1995) Asbestos is well recognized as a health hazard. Asbestos fibers associated with these health risks are too small to be seen with the naked eye. People may be exposed to asbestos in their workplace, their communities, or their homes. If products containing asbestos are disturbed, the tiny asbestos fibers are released into the air. When asbestos fibers are breathed in, they may get trapped in the lungs and remain there for a long time. Over time, these fibers can accumulate and cause scarring and inflammation which can affect breathing and lead to serious health problems.
This buildup of scar-like tissue in the lungs is called asbestosis and can result in loss of lung function that often progresses to disability and death. Asbestosis (an inflammatory condition affecting the lungs that can cause shortness of breath, coughing, and permanent lung damage) and other nonmalignant lung and pleural disorders, including pleural plaques (changes in the membranes surrounding the lung), pleural thickening, and benign pleural effusions (abnormal collections of fluid between the thin layers of tissue lining the lungs and the wall of the chest cavity). Asbestosis may result from exposures as short as six weeks in heavy dust concentrations.
Asbestos also causes cancer of the lung and other diseases such as mesothelioma of the pleura which is a fatal malignant tumor of the membrane lining the cavity of the lung or stomach. Brief exposure to blue asbestos can manifest itself later in life as mesothelioma. There also many people who are now being diagnosed with asbestos-related disease who have never worked in asbestos-handling industries. Some were exposed to asbestos fibers as children, because their fathers worked in heavy industry, construction or as vehicle mechanics and brought asbestos home on their work clothes. It’s crucial, that people be protected from asbestos exposed during the digging for new construction developments. The excavation for this project is going to take a considerable amount of time to complete and in this time the Jersey Development Company appear not to have recognized that thousands of Islanders’ health could be put at risk for the sake of a new ‘Financial Centre’.
The consequences of asbestos can be hidden for years, a person may be oblivious until it is too late of the actual cause of their illness. You may know someone who has been affected by asbestos exposure and may be able to identify with a letter we have been permitted to publish from June Shaw. June has been following in her husband’s Keith footsteps in trying to raise the dangers and devastating consequences of asbestos.
Keith was a valued colleague of SOSJ and had been working with us on the asbestos and related problems at La Collette. He tragically died from mesothelioma earlier this year. June’s letter, titled ‘From diagnosis to death in 16 days; what a blessing.’ can be downloaded from this link: junesletter We urge you to read it.