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Doctors warn of the long-term risks of exposure to asbestos
For a long time, asbestos was rated as a non-hazardous material until the findings on the connections with cancer of the lungs, larynx, lung and peritoneum prompted a new evaluation. Today the use of asbestos has largely ceased, but the cancer risk persists even decades after exposure, according to the Freiburg University Clinic.
"The earlier you were confronted with asbestos, the more likely a late illness is," reports the Freiburg University Hospital. Inhaled asbestos fibers can cause cancer in the lungs, larynx, lung skin and peritoneum. Even decades after contact with the fibers, there is a risk of a corresponding disease.
Asbestos is still found in many buildings
After asbestos was identified as carcinogenic, the use of asbestos has been practically completely banned in Germany since 1993, reports the university hospital. But especially in the 60s and 70s, asbestos was often used in long-lasting construction products and can therefore still be found in apartments and buildings today. Asbestos is often an undetected source of danger for renovations, for example if old flooring, bathroom tiles or plasters are to be removed. The fibers can be inhaled and settle in the tissue in the long term.
Asbestos fibers remain in the fabric in the long term
Asbestos "breaks down into fine fibers that split lengthwise" and "these small fragments can be easily inhaled," emphasizes Armin Schuster, graduate biologist at the Institute for Environmental Medicine and Hospital Hygiene at the University Hospital Freiburg. The fibers remain in the lungs and other tissues for a long time and trigger typical diseases there, the expert continues. The material is now considered to be clearly carcinogenic.
Fibers are even detectable in the urine
"A short and extreme exposure to asbestos has the same effect as years of low exposure," explains Schuster. And the earlier you were confronted with asbestos, the more likely it would be that you would get sick later. “Inhaled asbestos fibers even appear in the urine. A specialized pathologist can detect asbestos contamination in the tissue with a microscope. Construction products to be examined are also verified in this way, ”explains Schuster.
According to the Freiburg University Hospital, inhaled asbestos fibers threaten cancer in the lungs, on the larynx or on the mesothelia (lining of the chest and peritoneal cavity or the pericardium). With X-ray and CT examinations, typical changes on the pleura are recognizable. To exclude a malignant tumor, however, a chest mirroring must be carried out.
Better treatment options with early diagnosis
If the doctors find a tumor, it can often be surgically removed at an early stage of the tumor by removing the pleura, lung and sometimes the diaphragm, reports the university hospital. The operation is combined with intraoperative chemotherapy, which is given after the removal of the costal and pulmonary pelvis via a machine and drainage into the chest and then circulates there. According to Dr. Benedikt Haager, senior physician in the Department of Thoracic Surgery at the University Medical Center Freiburg, can “achieve a higher concentration of the chemotherapeutic agent directly at the scene” and the effectiveness of the treatment can be increased. (fp)