Most people find it difficult to believe that a tiny dust material, too small to see, can cause such havoc with the human body. As a construction worker, I may have an advantage in identifying the materials which shed this residue, but this also tends to make me more vulnerable to it's effects. This, in turn gives me the incentive to do what it takes to avoid it or possibly shed it myself if I should accidentally make contact with it from any number of situations.
How do I determine that I've accidentally contacted the residue?
To start with, what you have to understand is " this material is light enough to stay airborne for long periods of time, it is very dry and staticy, it can leave a bitter-salty taste in your mouth, it can be irritating to the eyes and sinuses and it attaches to the hairs on your skin and head leaving a staticy-iching feeling over your entire body.( Sometimes this sensation is subtle and other times it's pronounced, depending on the type of asbestos material it came from and the amount of dust you've contacted.)" Combined with the many chance encounters of this material, this presents an interesting challenge for which few are willing to embark.
If you are ready to take on this challenge, the first step in getting relief from this sensation requires removing and isolating the clothes you were wearing and showering thoroughly. After dressing, the next logical step is to backtrack and identify the items and locations that you made contact with between the time you made the contact with the residue and the point where the clothes were shed. If these were solid surface items, they can be wiped clean with disposable towels and either water or a spray cleaner such as orange cleaner. If they were cloth surfaces such as cloth car seats or furnture, the simplest method is thorough vacuuming with a vacuum cleaner which includes a hepa filter.
Next comes the choice of disposing of the clothes or trying to clean them. If you try to wash them in a clothes washer, one washing wil not do it. Also, it's important to wash them separately from other clothes. Cotton clothes will eventually clear up, where polyester or nylon may never come clean of this residue.
Given the previous information to be true, one soon sees the logic in wearing only cotton clothes and being aware of the path you take after contacting any suspected situations.
If this routine doesn't interest you in the least, you probably have no incentive to follow it.
If you suffer from any of the following maladies which I've been able to associate with an unfortunate contact with asbestos dust, you may want to try this routine just to see if the condition clears up.
Any entry of this dust to the air passages can cause irritation, such as, the sinuses, notrils, eustation tube, back of throats, broncial tubes or even down to the stomach. Consequentally, illnesses, such as, sore throats, strep throat, toncilitis, sinus infections and inner ear infections can all have their beginnings with unrelenting irritation caused by asbestos residues. Irritation to the broncial tubes can be the beginnings of broncitis and pneumonia. A sour or sore feeling in the isofigus, which may mimic heart burn, is another result of exposure.
The eyes and outer ear can also suffer from exposure causingpink eye and blurring, as well as outer ear infections.This is another moist area where a fine dust can be desolved into body fluids. As these fluids dry out, the fine asbestos residue is left destroying the surounding tissue causing irritation and immune system responses.
The largest surface affected is the skin. Many different effects can be seen, depending on the location. The face and shoulders commonly are affected by acne, if that individual is prone to it. Asbestos fibers become embedded in the large poresand cause constant irritation and eventually infection by the acne bacteria which is commonly on the skin. Other areas of the face where contact with a hat, pillow or even ones hair that is embedded with some level of asbestos residue can show signs of acne. Other areas may have anything from dry, cracking skin to contact dermatitis or even yeast infection.
I've also found athelete's foot to follow an accidental walk through an area recently stripped of asbestos tiles. The shoes become embeded with the substance due to the amount of asbestos dust left in the mastic adhesive and porous concrete. Wearing these shoes causes the skin of the feet and toes to become vunerable to fungus infection, such as atheletes foot. Some portion of this dust makes it's way up to other parts of the body as well, each with their own story of immune system compromise.
This is just another day in the life of body exposed to low levels of asbestos residues encountered in any number of situations we should avoid when they are recognized.
Rick Raymond is a Construction Electrician with a sincere interest in health and science.