Washington State has several natural deposits of asbestos its center and pacific northwestern regions. Also present in the state are both hydroelectric and nuclear power plants. Asbestos-related occupations such as power plants put workers at high risk of asbestos exposure. Asbestos is used as a retardant to heat, flames, and overwhelming heat levels. It is also resistant to chemicals and non conduit to electrical current.
Asbestos are natural fibers that are actually mined from the ground. Six types of these mineral fibers are used for commercial purposes all over the world. Its use dates back to when the Greeks used it to weave cloth and later the Romans used it to construct their buildings. Asbestos is inexpensive to mine and use, very strong, flexible, and resistant to heat, flame, and chemicals. It was nicknamed a “wonder fiber” until the public became aware of the dangers and stopped using it widely.
When crushed, crumbled or disturbed, asbestos is dangerous as the fibers are released into the air. Asbestos fibers are light and flexible and can become friable (reduced to dust) by hand pressure. Scarring of the membranes around the lung causes asbestos-related diseases such as asbestosis and mesothelioma which occurs due to chronic asbestos exposure.
Symptoms of mesothelioma do not usually present themselves for 20-50 years after asbestos exposure. The common symptoms of mesothelioma are: shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, weight loss and loss of appetite, lumps under the skin, obstruction of the bowels, irregular heart beat, and night sweats.
Once a doctor has diagnosed mesothelioma, a patient will undergo many tests before coming up with a treatment plan best to combat the disease. Surgery may be performed to remove the tumor completely or in some cases remove a part of the lung depending on the patient’s condition, age, and location of the tumor. Other mesothelioma treatment options advised may be radiation therapy or chemotherapy. There are even clinical trials on new medicines and treatments.