Occupational Safety and Health
As an occupational safety and health consultant, you are asked to provide toxicological advice on the potential health hazards associated with the following three situations: i)
A construction company is about to start work demolishing an old building which is known to contain blue asbestos (crocidolite). ii)
A company stores large quantities of acetone and is concerned about the possibility of a chemical spill. iii)
A freezing works has identified a potential hazard – a leak in pipe work which could result in a major ammonia leak.
For the above three substances undertake a toxicological assessment of each, using the following headings:
Introduction (including description of the material, physical properties and possible occupational exposures)
Action and effects in the body (including uptake, physiological action, metabolism of the substance in the body, and effects on the body)
Health hazard information and assessment
Conclusion (including recommendations for use)
A construction company is about to start work demolishing an old building which is known to contain blue asbestos (crocidolite).
BLUE ASBESTOS HAZARD CLASSIFICATION - A1 CARCINOGEN
Asbestos is a term applied to a naturally occurring common mineral known as a carcinogen which in simple terms is a substance that can cause cancer.
There are two main types of asbestos. These are serpentine and amphibole.
The serpentine fibre has a curved or wavy appearance and the amphibole fibres are straight and long. They include amosite (brown asbestos), crocidolite (blue asbestos), actinolite and anthophyllite.The resistance to chemical break-down means that they will persist for a long time, potentially for life once they have settled in the lung.
Blue asbestos or crocidolite, has been known to be one of the worst types of asbestos, causing those who are exposed to it to develop fatal diseases including: 1.
Benign Pleural Disease
3. Lung cancer
Asbestos is not volatile or soluble, however small fibres may occur in both air and water.
In 1984, the import of raw amphibole (blue and brown) asbestos into New Zealand was banned.
Action and Effects on the Body:
Diseases which are caused by asbestos exposure are put into two categories - cancerous and non- cancerous.
The main forms of cancer to the lungs related to asbestos exposure are:
Mesothelioma is a cancer that occurs in two parts of the body, the membrane of the lung, or the perioteneum, which is the area below the lung. The pleura is the lining between the lungs and the chest cavity. Generally, pleural mesothelioma does not penetrate deeply into the lung itself. Typically, the disease spreads itself on the outside of the lung, compressing the lung, and eventually stops the lungs ability to expand and contract, thus suffocating the victim. Often, secondary diseases, such as pneumonia will be an immediate cause of death inasmuch as the mesothelioma lowers the resistance of the body to such •
Asbestos has also been linked to lung cancer. Asbestos may cause lung cancer in non-smokers; however, the incidence of lung cancer is much greater in smokers than in non-smokers. Medical evidence tends to suggest that smoking in the absence of asbestos exposure may not be nearly as dangerous as smoking combined with asbestos exposure. The total effect of the asbestos is to greatly increase the risk of cancer in a smoker over that normally expected in smokers. Asbestos also causes some lung diseases which are not cancerous, but which can be just as serious as cancer. The non-malignant diseases associated with asbestos exposure are: •
Asbestosis is a scarring of the lung. Asbestosis is a disease named after its cause, asbestos, and cannot occur in one not exposed to asbestos. Asbestos is caused by airborne asbestos being inhaled. The asbestos fibres that cause damage are too...
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