Your Children and Asbestos


Asbestos kills.


There’s no real way around it. It’s a simple fact that while it can take a long time before signs even appear, asbestos fibres are lethal. They scratch and tear at the internal lining of the lungs, causing all sorts of problems. An asbestos-related cancer is the worst of all the bad outcomes.


Exposure to the fibres can be terrifying but subtle. The symptoms take decades to develop, which is part of what makes it so scary. By the time the effects are apparent, it is often too late to do anything about it.


One good thing about this is that most of the effects of asbestos exposure are rare in children. Yes, kids do breathe more often and are at higher risk of exposure. Asbestos-related mesothelioma in juveniles is rare, though.


That doesn’t mean there are no signs. In fact, there are a few, and these can be just as scary for someone in a tender age.


In particular, asbestos-related illnesses in children produce some signs. These include tightness in the chest or chest pains, a persistent cough, and a crackling sound during inhalation. Children often also display weight loss for no reason, a hoarseness of the voice, abdominal swelling, and fever.


The list above are signs of asbestosis, but can also be caused by other conditions. No matter the reason, it is best to consult with a paediatrician and to share any concerns you have.


With that in mind, just how to children become exposed to the fibres? There are two ways. The first is to be exposed at home, due to threads or sheets in the structure. The other is through secondary exposure, from a loved one that has been exposed.


For home exposure, it could come from floor tiles, ceiling tiles, drywall, and other sources. Asbestos was used as lining and insulation in homes before the 1980s, which means an old house that’s never been renovated is probably full of the stuff.


Calling a professional to get an inspection and removal – go to this website for more info – is critical. If they find asbestos sheets that are intact, these are relatively safe. Just don’t break them apart or take samples. If the fibres are loose, then you have a problem.


Secondary exposure is a little more difficult.


People who have contracted an asbestos-related illness may carry fibres on their clothing. When the child comes into contact with them for a hug, they’re exposed. They might breathe it in and show no signs until years later.


If your child is exposed, you’ll want first to prevent any further exposure. Find asbestos professionals that can assess the home and remove them safely. If your workplace has it, be sure to report it or request that your employer or building manager do something about it.


Whatever you do, don’t try to do anything yourself. Don’t take samples. Don’t try to find them yourself. Don’t attempt to remove the sheets. This is just going to put you and everyone nearby in danger.


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