The Hidden Risk of DIY

There are some cancers that are known to be associated with certain environmental factors, and if we want to avoid the cancer we need to minimize the exposure to the aggravating factor. Everybody knows the association between smoking and lung cancer, and even passive smoking has now been recognised as a health threat, but, did you about the hidden risk of DIY?

The risk here is of an extremely unpleasant and devastating form of lung cancer called mesothelioma which has been shown to be directly linked to asbestos fibres. Those of us who are old enough to remember the great actor Steve McQueen were shocked and dismayed when it was discovered he had mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos during his motor racing activities as it was a major ingredient in the fire retardant protective clothing then used.

The risks of asbestos to health have been well documented and there are still court cases going on involving people exposed to the risk unknowingly through their work. Asbestos used to be widely employed in building but has been outlawed for some time.

The problem is that many domestic homes may contain asbestos without their owners being aware of this. The risk to health is slight if asbestos is left undisturbed and remains intact, but if it starts to break down or if DIY work unwittingly takes place and disturbs it, then there is a real risk of fibres becoming airborne and settling in someone’s lungs.

The article here explains more:

“Asbestos, a naturally occurring, affordable material with great heat resistant properties was widely used in industry and construction for much of the twentieth century.”

“It was only after decades of use in a wide variety ways that people noted the link between exposure to asbestos fibres and a number of different lung diseases – particularly the aggressive, cruel chest cancer mesothelioma.

Asbestos fibres can lie dormant in people’s lungs for anywhere between 15 and 50 years after initial exposure. Because symptoms are similar to a number of other conditions, mesothelioma is often spotted too late in the day, and is almost always fatal.”

“Diagnoses are currently most common amongst those who worked in fields such as heavy industry and shipbuilding during the 1960s and 1970s, before there was a serious appreciation of the danger asbestos posed. Nevertheless, it took until 1999 for all forms of asbestos to finally be banned in the UK.”

“Workplace regulations about asbestos are now much more stringent than they once were, leaving the home as the last setting in which people could be exposed.”

“A particular concern is the lack of awareness and understanding there is about the potential health hazard asbestos poses among those doing DIY.

Millions of homes across the UK were built in the era when asbestos was a widely used material, and as long as people are still living and working in these buildings asbestos, could, if disturbed, be a major health hazard. At the same time, it is important not to scare people; if asbestos is in good condition, and doesn’t have to be removed, then it is best left alone.”

Once asbestos fibres are inhaled, it is impossible to tell who may ultimately suffer ill health, and when this might occur. This means that raising awareness among the general public about asbestos as a potential hazard in the home is absolutely crucial, if we are to avoid further fatalities as a result of people undertaking DIY without knowing all the facts about asbestos.

It seems that we have to be ever alert to the potential threats to our health these days. Concerns have been raised about the use of mobile phones and the increasing presence of WiFi in public places, but, who would have thought of the hidden risk of DIY?





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