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ACUTE EXPOSURE INFORMATION
- USES: Asbestos has been mined for use in a variety of manufactured products due to its low cost and desirable properties, such as heat and fire resistance, wear and friction characteristics, tensile strength, heat, electrical, and sound insulation, adsorption capacity, and resistance to chemical and biological attack. It has been mostly used in building materials, friction products, and heat-resistant fabrics.
- TOXICOLOGY: Asbestos exposure occurs from inhalation of airborne fibers or from ingestion of fibers. All asbestos fiber types are fibrogenic and known to cause asbestosis, pleural changes, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. Most human studies have examined exposure to chrysotile, the most widely used type of asbestos. Asbestosis has been reported in populations exposed to amosite, crocidolite, tremolite, and anthophyllite asbestos. Crocidolite has the greatest potential to produce disease, followed by amosite and chrysotile.
- EPIDEMIOLOGY: It has been estimated that of the 4 million workers heavily exposed to asbestos, at least 1.6 million (35% to 44%) are expected to die of asbestos-related cancers. It is estimated that between 58,000 and 75,000 asbestos-associated deaths will occur each year, which will account for between 13% and 18% of the total cancer deaths in the United States.
- WITH POISONING/EXPOSURE
- CHRONIC TOXICITY: Asbestos exposure increases the risk for non-malignant asbestos-related lung and pleural disorders (asbestosis, pleural plaques, pleural thickening, and pleural effusions), lung cancer, and mesothelioma. Chronic inhalation of asbestos fibers may lead to a characteristic pneumoconiosis termed asbestosis, a diffuse interstitial lung fibrosis. Individuals with fully developed asbestosis will experience dyspnea, which is often accompanied by rales or cough. Deficits in pulmonary function variables, (ie, forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) and forced vital capacity (FVC)), also occur. Asbestosis can cause cardiovascular effects, such as pulmonary hypertension and compensatory hypertrophy of the right heart (cor pulmonale). Besides asbestosis, chronic asbestos exposure causes lung cancer, mesothelioma (primarily of the pleura but also of the peritoneum), pleural disease, and pleural plaques. Tobacco smokers, exposed to asbestos, are at greater risk for lung cancer than nonsmokers. Cancers at sites other than the respiratory system have been linked to asbestos exposure, including gastrointestinal carcinomas, cancer of the kidney, brain, bladder, larynx, and pancreas, and unspecified malignant lymphomas. The ACGIH places asbestos (all forms) in category A1, Confirmed Human Carcinogen. The IARC classifies asbestos in Group 1: Carcinogenic to humans. The NTP classifies asbestos as a known carcinogen.
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