It seems that nearly every corporate industry does some sort of harm to the Earth. From harmful greenhouse gases to industrial waste settling toxins into the environment, nearly every sector has something they can fix about its effect on the planet.
The construction industry can have many harmful effects on human, as well as environmental, health. Hazardous materials from construction can settle into the environment, polluting it and presenting a health risk for humans and animals.
On World Cancer Day, February 4th, the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance and Carbonfund.org Foundation are teaming up to bring awareness to environmental issues that directly affect human health. We’re also encouraging you to help with solutions!
This World Cancer Day, please make a donation to plant trees with Carbonfund.org, to help improve air and soil quality, and help reverse the negative impact of environmental pollutants. For only $1, you can plant a tree — or plant trees for everyone in your family, your company, or for those whose health been affected by environmental pollutants.
Part of the solution is recognizing that carcinogenic material poses a serious threat to the environment. One of these materials is asbestos, which can cause many human health risks and poses an environmental harm as well.
What is asbestos?
Asbestos, though naturally-occurring, can pose a danger. It is the only known cause of the cancer mesothelioma, which most commonly affects the lining of the lungs. Asbestos was used largely throughout the 20th century, before its carcinogenic properties became common knowledge.
This mineral was valuable for its many desirable building properties, including low price, resistance to flame and heat, insulation, and strength. However, these small particles are easily inhalable, which can pose a risk to internal organs with lung cancer, mesothelioma cancer or asbestosis.
Mesothelioma is the most common occupational cancer, and most commonly affects construction workers, miners, shipyard workers, mechanics, and soldiers and veterans. All of these populations worked with materials that commonly contained asbestos, increasing their exposure risk.
How does it affect health?
Once inhaled, asbestos can settle into the lining of internal organs, where the microscopic fibers irritate the sensitive tissue. Over time the body attempts to expel these fibers by breaking them down even further, and this continuous process is what initiates the cancer formation.
Most commonly, asbestos settles in the lungs or abdomen, though it can also affect the heart and testicles. Mesothelioma has an incredibly long latency period, with time from exposure to disease presentation commonly taking 20 to 50 years. Life expectancy once diagnosed is very low, at about 2 years.
What environmental risk is there?
Asbestos can pollute air, soil and water. Air quality poses the largest risk since the mineral is friable and becomes airborne easily. Lingering in the air for up to 72 hours, the asbestos can then be inhaled by humans and animals and result in pleural mesothelioma, which is the most common form of the disease.
Stemming mainly from air pollution or incorrect asbestos-containing materials (ACM) disposal is soil pollution, when asbestos fibers settle into the ground. If unearthed by natural disasters, construction developments, or animals, the fibers can become airborne again, starting the unexpected exposure cycle once more. Though animals are certainly susceptible to mesothelioma and asbestosis, thankfully no link has been made between asbestos pollution and risk to plant life.
What can we do?
On February 4th, World Cancer Day, remember that carcinogenic materials are still a danger. To help reverse the damage to our environment, donate to plant a tree, learn more about toxic substances, and dispose of toxic used materials properly. For more information on asbestos and mesothelioma cancer, visit www.mesothelioma.com.