Whilst asbestos has been banned in the UK since 1999, it remains in many buildings built before this time, where this fibrous material was used for insulation, flooring, and roofing. Sometimes it has been deemed safer to leave asbestos undisturbed in these buildings until a time it can no longer be avoided, such as for the demolition or renovation of the property and it can be safely removed in the best way possible.
It is more likely to have come into prolonged contact with asbestos if you worked in the construction industry from the 1970s to the 90s, however as there is still much asbestos to be removed in the UK, a job that puts you at risk of removing or damaging asbestos heightens your chances of prolonged exposure.
Symptoms of asbestosis can include:
Shortness of breath
Extreme tiredness (fatigue)
Pain in your chest or shoulder
In more advanced cases clubbed (swollen) fingertips
It can take 20 to 30 years before symptoms appear. Consider your regular environments, when they were built, and if asbestos poisoning is a viable consideration to your symptoms.
As it is impossible to repair damage caused to the lungs, there is no cure for asbestosis once it has developed, however, there are treatments and advisory notes to improve your wellbeing whilst living with the condition such as pulmonary rehabilitation, oxygen therapy, and using an inhaler. Your GP will also recommend quitting smoking if you do so, and regular flu and pneumococcal vaccinations as your lungs will be more vulnerable to infections.
Asbestosis can have a big impact on your life, but help is available. Support services include:
Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum https://asbestosforum.org.uk/
British Lung Foundation – helpline 03000 030 555 https://www.blf.org.uk/support-for-you/asbestos-related-conditions?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIy6eUiOum1QIVzJ3tCh3foArlEAAYAiAAEgJw5PD_BwE
Cancer Research UK: mesothelioma – helpline 0808 800 4040 https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/mesothelioma
Mesothelioma UK – helpline 0800 169 2409 https://www.mesothelioma.uk.com/