07/08. tbl. 105. árg. 2019

Asbestos and its effects on health of Icelanders – review

Asbest og áhrif þess á heilsufar Íslendinga - Yfirlitsgrein

Asbestos are crystallized silicate minerals that form fibers with different structures and characteristics. Asbestos fibers are very durable and can tolerate very high temperatures. Therefore it was common to use asbestos as a fire retardants, heat insulation and where high temperature is used. Asbestos has been banned in Iceland from 1983 but can still be found in large amounts in buildings, ships and hot water pipes. Large amounts of asbestos were imported in the years before the ban but diminished soon to almost nothing today. Needle or filamentous shaped dust is released when working with asbestos. It is this dust that is dangerous for health. The latent time from exposure to disease can be up to forty years. Asbestos reaches the lungs via inhalation and can cause asbestosis that is a form of lung fibrosis with slow progression. Asbestos can also cause benign pleural effusions, pleural plaques and diffuse pleural thickening. Asbestos is a carcinogen. Lung cancer is most common but asbestos is also a risk factor for cancers of other organs. Mesothelioma is most common in the pleura but can be seen in other membranes. The incidence of these tumors is high in Iceland and is still increasing among males. Of all the European countries mortality is highest in Iceland. It is important for physicians to include asbestos exposure in the differential diagnosis of lung diseases and when lung cancer is diagnosed

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